We’ve covered several of the fights against hateful, anti-immigrant local ordinances. Thanks to PRLDEF for this update from Mamaroneck county, one of the toughest fights we’ve had.
PRLDEF Welcomes settlement in
Mamaroneck that Protects Day
Laborers from Further Harassment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2007
CONTACT: John Garcia, PRLDEF, (212) 739-7513
PRLDEF welcomed a settlement Monday night by the Village of Mamaroneck and six day laborers that prohibits police misconduct and discrimination against day laborers. The village will also be required to pay $550,000 in fees to the laborers’ lawyers. A court-appointed monitor will ensure the village complies with the settlement.
PRLDEF has fought similar battles against local municipalities that target immigrants for harassment in Hazleton, PA, Riverside, NJ and Avon Park, FL. PRLDEF president and general counsel Cesar Perales believes that unless an immigration reform bill is passed and immigrants are protected from these efforts, the issue will persist.
“The court clearly found that that the village was violating the rights of these day laborers and it now has cost them significant amounts of money and time,” he said. “The court upheld the fact that immigrants have protection from harassment and discrimination. A strong immigration bill will reemphasize that fact with these local officials who think they can step on anyone’s rights.”
Following a November 2006 decision by United States District Judge Colleen McMahon in which she found that Mamaroneck Village officials and police had discriminated against day laborers, the Village and lawyers for the day laborers concluded an historic agreement Monday night that prohibits interference with the day laborers’ right to obtain work in the Village.
“This is a day of immeasurable satisfaction for the day laborers of Mamaroneck,” said the day laborers’ lead counsel Alan Levine, who is Special Counsel to the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. “They have sought from the village nothing more than to be left alone and be allowed to seek work. As a result of this agreement and Judge McMahon’s forceful decision last November, they will be assured of that opportunity in the future. It is sad that it took a lengthy and costly lawsuit to establish such a fundamental right in Mamaroneck.”
PRLDEF and pro bono attorneys from Dewey Ballantine, LLP, representing six day laborers from Mamaroneck, charged that the city targeted the Latino day laborers The plaintiffs claimed the police action was part of a systematic effort to eject them from public spaces in the Village.
“A number of Dewey Ballantine attorneys worked long hours on this case and supported the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and we are very happy to have helped achieve this result for our clients,” said Seth C. Farber, Dewey Ballantine Litigation Partner and Chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee.
The settlement provides for, among other things, (1) the payment of attorneys fees to the Plaintiffs’ lawyers of $550,000; (2) specific prohibitions on police misconduct and discriminatory behavior towards day laborers, including a prohibition against routine police inquiry into the immigration status of day laborers; (3) a court-appointed monitor who will ensure that the Village complies with the terms of the settlement.
The Day laborers were represented by lawyers from PRLDEF and the law firm of Dewey Ballantine LLP. The latter provided its services without charge and intends to donate its portion of the attorneys’ fees to an organization supporting the activities of day laborers.