MALDEF FILES LAWSUIT CHALLENGING LEAGUE CITY’S ANTI-SOLICITATION POLICY
Plaintiff also challenges constitutionality of Texas anti-solicitation law
HOUSTON, TX – Today, MALDEF filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging League City's local policy and practices targeting day laborers and their free speech right to express their availability for employment in public areas. MALDEF filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Jornaleros de las Palmas, an association of day laborers whose members have been restricted from peaceably expressing their need and availability for employment in the city's public areas due to the City's policy.
Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, stated, "The right of free expression belongs just as much to every day laborer as to a multinational corporation or to a candidate for high political office. This suit will vindicate the universal application of this basic right under the Constitution."
The lawsuit alleges that in 2009, League City Police Department announced publicly and initiated a "crackdown" on day laborers. As a result, police have engaged in a campaign of harassment against Latino day laborers, including intimidation tactics, extensive police patrols and surveillance, and threats of citations and arrests against day laborers lawfully seeking employment. The policy has unlawfully subjected day laborers to harsh fines and even imprisonment, and it violates the day laborers' First and Fourteenth amendments rights under the United States Constitution. Plaintiff has also challenged Texas's anti-solicitation law, which authorizes cities to exercise impermissible favoritism by permitting persons exercising certain types of charitable solicitation speech to enter roadways without violating the law.
"League City's policy unfairly singles out and punishes Latino day laborers and takes away their right to free speech," said Marisa Bono, lead counsel for MALDEF. "Day laborers seeking work have the same rights to express themselves as anyone else. These are tough economic times, and their hard work should be rewarded, not targeted."
Federal courts throughout the country have consistently struck down anti-solicitation ordinances, and have ruled in favor of preserving the free speech rights of day laborers. This lawsuit falls in line with those cases and will help vindicate MALDEF's clients' rights.
MALDEF's legal complaint can be found here.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.
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