In our opinion, the answer is a resounding no, due mostly to the track record the workers left behind at the Calvary Church at Escuela Avenue and California Street, just down the road from the new site, and at Trinity United Methodist Church at Hope and Church streets, the center's current location.
During the Worker Center's stay at both locations, no unruly behavior was reported, there were no incidents that required police intervention, and the relatively quiet neighborhoods remained quiet with little increase in traffic, as most day workers ride their bicycles to the center.
But good behavior is not what the Escuela neighbors want to talk about. Instead, they are upping the ante, challenging the Worker Center as a haven for illegal immigrants. To help in their cause, some neighbors have enlisted the aid of Judicial Watch, a national legal group that specializes in filing suits against cities like Mountain View.
On what grounds, you ask? The cities in Judicial Watch's sights refuse to take a hostile stance against the Worker Center. Mountain View officials have determined that the center is a legal operation and that its new location does not violate any local zoning laws or other ordinances. On May 5, the City Council is expected to give the center final approval to occupy the Escuela space — meaning that, after years of bouncing from one location to another, it will finally have a permanent home of its own.
In an e-mail to the Voice last week, Escuela resident Brad Keller said Judicial Watch is concerned that "the Day Worker Center may, in violation of U.S. federal immigration law, support undocumented workers and employers of undocumented workers, and that local cities may be using citizens' tax dollars to support these activities."
The fight in Mountain View is hardly unique. In the years ahead, the Obama administration and Congress are expected to take up the immigration issue, which must somehow acknowledge the millions of working immigrants in our country. Like other communities across California and the nation, Mountain View surely has its share of residents who are not legal immigrants. But groups like Judicial Watch are not going to solve that problem — though they might wind up costing the city a lot of money as it is forced to defend itself in court.
Instead of bringing in outside agitators, the Escuela neighbors would do better to leave immigration issues to the federal government. A much better choice would be to reach out to the day workers and work with them to improve the neighborhood. After all, they have done that already at their last two locations.