In today's Oregonian Aimee Green reports on a lawsuit filed against mayor Tom Potter and commissioners Randy Leonard and Dan Saltzman in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The suit, filed by citizen-activist Tom Wenning, a 60-year old former utilities meter reader, seeks "an injunction to halt operations" at the city-sponsored day-labor center at 240 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Wenning contends that Portland is encouraging illegal immigrants to live in Oregon by providing funds to the VOZ Worker Rights Education Project to run, since June 16, a day-labor center to provide a safe, warm place for low-wage workers--many of them recent immigrants--to spend time while trying to connect with employers.
That's right: Portland had the audacity to offer a little bit of shelter to the poorest, most-exploited people living in Oregon. But Tom Wenning can't stand the idea that we're doing anything but shunning away these workers tainted with illegality. Nevermind that these people are providing low-wage labor that many or even most Americans might easily turn down. Or that they're providing a crucial need for labor in agricultural and light-industrial settings. These non white-skinned heathens don't have their immigration paperwork done!
Mr. Wenning (and I use a gentleman's salutation sarcastically) might want to take a moment and consider another name for these illegal immigrants, first coined by a certain Lady Liberty residing in New York Harbor:
"Huddled masses yearning to breathe free"
Instead of harrassing people at the day-labor center--Wenning recently was arrested for blocking the driveway--I'd like to see this bozo put in a hard day's work picking berries or working on an assembly line. And then send most of his day's pay thousands of miles south to his family, whom he hasn't seen in years. How about walking in another man's shoes, pal?
Better yet, I think since these hard working illegal immigrants are so much more exemplary citizens than Tom Wenning, and since America doesn't seem to have room for any more people despite our gargantuan wealth compared to most any other nation, we should send him on a one-way trip to one of the nations sending the most immigrants to America.
Granted this post isn't really about architecture--only the day labor center Wenning is menacing comprises any built structure, and I'm sure it's a crappy building. But if providing basic shelter and good cheer to people at the bottom of the economic ladder is wrong, I don't want to be right.
Oh, and one more thing, Wenning: Unless you're Native American, you're descended from American immigrants, like the rest of us. And even though I'm personally descended from Robert E. Lee and Martha Washington, I'm more proud of my long forgotten ancestors who gave up everything to come across the Atlantic Ocean from places like Norway, Switzerland and England. And I doubt they filled out any paperwork to immigrate here either. Or if they did, I hope there wasn't some reactionary whacko suing to shut down Ellis Island.