Jon Garrido’s plan to lead day laborers on a march across downtown Mesa in favor of a day labor center didn’t go as planned Tuesday, but he said he still thinks he can open the center himself.
Garrido, who is forming a new council of the League of United Latin American Citizens in the city, said hoped the 25 men he had invited to the march would show up.
But these men, most of whom are thought to be illegal immigrants, may have been reluctant to demonstrate.
"For the day laborers to go to a rally, a march through the middle of Mesa to ask the city . . . to support a day labor center, is not the kind of thing Mesa’s day laborers are inclined to do," Garrido said.
So Garrido set off by himself for Mesa’s Rendezvous Center, where he led the inaugural meeting of the Mesa LULAC chapter, attended by about 20 people. The chapter will focus on educational and civil rights issues.
At the meeting, Silverio Garcia Jr., chairman of the statewide LULAC’s education council, said the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights will investigate allegations brought by LULAC against Mesa’s East Valley Institute of Technology.
LULAC accuses EVIT officials of violating civil rights law by forbidding students from talking to each other in Spanish and failing to communicate with Spanishspeaking parents.
Garrido said he moved to Mesa four months ago from Scottsdale because he wanted to "bring change to Arizona’s most conservative city." He said he will start a center for the day laborers who wait for work along sidewalks near Mesa Drive and Broadway Road. He indicated the center would be located on Broadway.
An application by the Mesa Community Action Network to start such a center has been stalled for months. Marty Whalen, vice president of the group, said work on compiling data on other centers, as requested by the City Council, is wrapping up.
Garrido said LULAC has the means to start a center now, because "I have found a church that has said it is willing to do this."
He said U.S. Supreme Court rulings which have upheld a federal law restricting cities’ power to regulate churches through zoning would shield the center from opposition.
He said the Catholic Churches of America would collaborate with his new nonprofit group, Ayuda, to provide other services along with the day labor center.
J.T. Ready, a Republican precinct committeeman for the area around Broadway and Mesa Drive, called the Tribune earlier Tuesday saying he intended to counterdemonstrate against the LULAC march, but he was not seen.