Day labor sites and neighbors who can talk to one another

An interesting thing has been happening in Centreville, VA.  People are disagreeing about immigration. And they’re still talking to one another.

Centreville is no Manassas.  For one thing, they have a growing immigrant community, and for the most part, no one seems to care.  Unlike Manassas, Centreville doesn’t have a storied history, no association with the Civil War.  In fact, there is no “there” in the same way there is in Old Town Manassas.  It’s a suburb that became a place relatively recently, therefore the residents seem to acknowledge and accept that their community is a work in progress.

Cut to the recent day labor center controversy.  It’s hardly a controversy at all–at least for the time being.  According to today’s article in the Washington Post, a few Centreville merchants decided to organize a day labor center to relocate a group of Central American men who congregate in the Centreville Square Shopping Center.  The men are waiting for American citizens to pick them up for their daily labor needs, and at the same time are frightening off customers.  There have been unpleasant run-ins (at all places, the ice cream shop), but for the most part, moving the men is about aesthetics and the perception of safety rather than a documented risk.  No one has reported being robbed or having suffered from a violent crime. 

There is no real consensus about the new day labor site, although there are opinions.  These include what one would normally expect from a debate like this: will an official center draw more laborers?  Would the community benefit from moving the center away from the shopping mall? Who should fund the center, and run it?

Amazingly, there has been no rise in anti-immigrant sentiment.  No formation of organized hate groups.  No nativist leaders shouting that Centreville will benefit by running immigrants out of the area.

Thanks, Centreville.  It’s good to know that in your little community civil behavior is still the norm.


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