Civil Liberties Group Is Prepared to Seek Court Injunction Unless Town Officials AgreeHerndon, VA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and the national ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project have asked the Town of Herndon to provide assurances that it will not enforce a controversial ordinance restricting communications between employers of day laborers and their prospective employees.
The ACLU’s request follows a Circuit Court ruling last week dismissing criminal charges brought against Stephen Andrew Thomas after he asked two men in a parking lot to assist him with yard work. Fairfax County Judge Leslie M. Alden ruled that Herndon’s Vehicle Solicitation Ordinance violates the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech.
In a letter faxed last Friday to Herndon Town Attorney Richard B. Kaufman, ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Rebecca Glenberg and ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project Staff Attorney Monica M. Ramirez seek written assurances by this Friday, September 7, that the ordinance will not be enforced.
Absent such assurances, the ACLU will proceed with plans to file a federal lawsuit to prevent enforcement of the ordinance.
The Herndon ordinance prohibits pedestrians from soliciting employment from anyone who is an occupant of, or temporarily leaves, a vehicle. It also prohibits the occupant of a vehicle, or someone who temporarily exits a vehicle, from soliciting any pedestrian. The ordinance applies to individuals on “any portion of a highway, sidewalk, driveway, parking area, or alley.”
“An ordinance that prevents an employer from pulling his car into a parking lot, leaving the car and talking to prospective employees has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with the shameful anti-immigrant sentiment that is sweeping through Northern Virginia communities,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis. “In this case, the free speech clause of the Constitution comes to the rescue by protecting the right of all employers and employees to communicate with each other.”
Despite the ruling that the ordinance is unconstitutional, the town has refused to say whether it will continue to enforce the ordinance.
A copy of the ACLU’s letter to the Herndon Town Attorney can be found at http://acluva.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/20070904-Herndon-Ltr-8-31-07-final.pdf.
ACLU of Virginia Contacts: Kent Willis or Rebecca Glenberg, 804/644-8022