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Lake Forest: Crackdown on Day Laborers

by Scott Sink Friday, Jan. 26, 2007 at 3:27 AM

Minutemen, OC Sheriffs, and a private security company are working hand in hand to harass day laborers.

The Lake Forest City Council approved a new “trespassing” ordinance attacking day laborers in Oct. 2006.

Since Lake Forest does not have its own police department, it contracts with the OC Sheriff, who enforces this measure.

The Lake Forest sheriffs can be seen regularly surveilling the area just south of El Toro Rd. and Jerónimo Rd. The west side of this corner features a commercial shopping center frequented by day laborers, a few auto shops, a nursery and a lumber yard. This industrial zone is the best place for day laborers to find work in the area.

However, the Minuteman Project (an armed anti-immigrant organization), private security in this shopping center, and OC sheriff deputies have driven many of the workers south across the city limit into Mission Viejo, also patrolled by OC sheriffs.

Jan. 20, 2007, approximately 50 day laborers and local activists marched into Lake Forest with signs saying, “Working is not a crime” and “We shall not be moved.”

Around 9:18 am, an older gentleman working as an armed security guard (who did not identify himself), accompanied an OC sheriff and pointed out two day laborers standing on the curb. “You! You!” he laconically called out to two men later identified as Gustavo Artemio Vásquez, 28, and Miguel Santorino Juárez, 36. The two men were taken to the OC Jail in Santa Ana for “trespassing.”

Around 10:56, the same security guard brought four OC sheriff vehicles into the parking lot to arrest Danilo Pérez Domingo, 30. He was also brought to the OC Jail charged with the same offense.

Naui Huitzilopochtli, 30, one of the organizers of the march, was eating inside one of the restaurants. The commotion, visible from his table, caused him to step outside to better witness the incident. Huitzilopochtli asked the security guard why he had called law enforcement.

He replied, “You, too, Scooter! You’re under arrest!”

Huitzilopochtli went back into the restaurant. The security guard entered behind him and gripped his side arm. “If I see you here again, I’ll have your ass!” he exclaimed.

When questioned about his professionalism, the enraged guard bellowed, “I’m not a police officer! I can say whatever I want!”

Upon leaving the scene, a sheriff pulled over Huitzilopochtli around 11:28 am under suspicion of a “vehicle code violation.” The deputy called a tow truck, which stopped in front of Huitzilopochtli's car. After five witnesses began observing the scene, taking notes and videotaping the encounter, the sheriff sent the tow away and released Huitzilopochtli with a citation.

All three arrested men have been released with a court date. Although the suspected violation of a municipal ordinance could be addressed by citing and releasing, taking suspects to the county jail achieves two goals. 1) Detainees are caused extended harassment by being taking far away from their job site and trapped in custody for the entire booking process. 2) Federal immigration agents posted in the county jail or deputies recently authorized to do immigration checks usually screen detainees’ immigration statuses. Therefore, suspects are often deported as a result of detention for a charge they are never tried for nor convicted of.

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More info John Earl Friday, Jan. 26, 2007 at 8:46 AM

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