News

Bitter fruit: An inside look at street vending

Strawberry vendors find crushed dreams on the streets

The strawberry vendors stand on street corners throughout Palo Alto, at busy intersections, outside shopping centers and banks.

Cars slowed along Stanford Avenue on a recent afternoon, their drivers peering at one vendor's succulent strawberries, mangoes and cherries. A woman stopped her vehicle at the Wellesley Street intersection as drivers behind her swerved to go past.

"How much?" she asked the vendor.

"Ten dollars," the man said as he passed a box of fruit through the car window.

But behind the sweet fruit there is a bitterness, a story of indentured servitude playing out on Bay Area streets.

According to a number of vendors, they were recruited off the streets in Mexico and smuggled into the United States by "coyotes," persons who bring people across the border for a fee of about $2,500.

Once here, the men are brought to houses in East Palo Alto and San Jose, where they live together. To pay off their debt, the men hand over all of their earnings to the coyotes until they are debt-free, they said.

Each morning, fruit from Watsonville arrives at the houses. The men board vans and are dropped off with the fruit at various locations in cities throughout the Bay Area: Redwood City, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Jose and Palo Alto, among others.

The vendors stand for up to 12 hours a day in the elements. They have no water, food or bathroom facilities, relieving themselves in nearby shops where they can, they said.

Bay Area police officers say they haven't heard of the indentured servitude. The men tell the police many different stories -- that operations are controlled by individual entrepreneurs or that small-business operators work with loose groups of people, police said.

But immigrant-rights proponents say the vendors are one small part of a complex web of exploitation, in which desperate people are mainly recruited from Asia and Central America.

In some of the worst cases, the immigrants are held against their will; others labor but don't receive payment, advocates said.

Proponents want cities to protect the vendors by addressing working conditions such as long hours and lack of toilet facilities.

Police and health-department officials said their concerns have been of a more immediate nature, such as traffic-safety and public-health issues, however. Most vendors do not have sales or health department permits, they said.

In Napa, street vending became so out of control last year that police were deluged with complaints about vendors who aggressively sold on private properties, such as apartment complexes and churches.

Vendors sold everything from strawberries to pork rinds, hawking their wares from shopping carts, according to Napa Police Lt. Debbie Peecook. In home kitchens where the food was prepared, Peecook found "absolutely horrendous" conditions: insects in the frying oil, mice, filth and outdoor kitchens, she said.

Anti-illegal immigration advocates, meanwhile, say undocumented laborers should not be enabled to continue illegal practices.

"Certainly, our group does not endorse it. We support enforcing the laws as written ... no matter how sorry we feel for people," said Carol Joyal, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Republican Women. She said she has purchased the berries on occasion from vendors who came door to door but doesn't want to buy from laborers who are here illegally.

"I don't know if they have a license to sell or not. They are competing with our grocery stores," she said.

But immigrant-rights advocates said there's a larger issue at play.

"It falls under human trafficking. There are countless reports of bringing people across the border with debt. The traffickers hold them under their thumbs. ... I have heard accounts of people kept in detention in homes until the debt is paid," said Evelyn Sanchez, a representative of the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition in Oakland. She added that she hasn't heard anything specific about the strawberry vendors, however.

Palo Alto Mayor Peter Drekmeier acknowledges the issue is tricky, since most of the vendors don't have permits and are violating the health and safety laws.

Recent marijuana-growing operations in Palo Alto's foothills had immigrant laborers guarding the pot plantations, he said. His concern is that immigrants desperate for work are being led into dangerous situations.

"I share concern about exploitation. (These people) have lived in poverty, and this is their last chance," he said.

On a Thursday afternoon, Adrian Paz stood on a corner on West Meadow Drive near El Camino Real in south Palo Alto with his fruit display.

Paz, 42, has been selling the strawberries for four months, recruited off the streets of Veracruz, Mexico. He crossed the border on foot with eight other men, eluding the border patrol with a coyote who guided them through the desert, he said. He left a wife and two young daughters, ages 8 and 2, behind in Mexico, arriving with the equivalent of $40 in his pocket, he said.

Small and thin, his high cheekbones jut out of a burnished, brown face. His jagged profile gives him the look of a man who has known hunger for a large part of his life.

During the first two months on the street, every dollar he made -- $300 a week -- went to pay the coyote, he said.

Now free of his $2,400debt, Paz said he hasn't been able to find other work. So he buys double-boxes of strawberries for $10 each, selling them for $20. On average, he said he makes $30 to $50 a day -- $250 to $300 a week.

But every week he pays $90 for his transportation in a van or car with the other men, and $40 to $80 a week for rent. Food consists of two meals a day: beans and rice for breakfast and chicken soup for dinner, he said.

The left over money he sends to his wife, he said.

Paz said he is angry but not with the coyotes. Police fines are $100 to $120 apiece, and police have confiscated his fruit.

He doesn't understand why he is being ticketed, seeing as the tickets are in English and he can't read them. He didn't show up in court because he didn't have the money to pay the tickets, and he can't afford an American lawyer to plead his case, he said.

"I want to speak with a judge," he said through a translator. "I want to ask for the Mexican government to give me help with the court and with my defense. I don't have money for a lawyer here," he said.

In most cities, vending without a permit is a misdemeanor and punishable by fines of between $150 and $400. Repeat violators can be arrested, charged under several health and safety codes and jailed.

Phil Smith, director of consumer protection in the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health, said various risks exist -- from spoilage and mold to dust, insects and debris -- when the fresh fruit isn't stored properly in a garage or warehouse. There are rarely proper restrooms and hand-washing facilities for persons handling food, he said.

Police in several cities said they are applying various aspects of the law.

In Redwood City, two sections of the municipal code are usually cited: vending without a business license and vending for more than 30 minutes in the same location, according to Det. Ken Cochran.

Santa Clara police are concerned about traffic congestion and accidents, Sgt. Ray Carrera said. They often first issue a warning and attempt to educate the vendors about the law regarding sales permit.

Undocumented immigrants are afraid to apply for permits, however. Santa Clara fingerprints permit applicants and does background checks to make sure vendors have no criminal history, he said. They have to be a U.S. citizen or have a work visa, he added.

In Palo Alto, peddler law is a bit loose, according to Agent Max Nielepko. The law is intended for vendors without a permanent location, but there is an exception for the sale of produce and farm products if the vendor is also the grower, he said. A license for a pushcart vendor costs $244 per quarter year with U.S. Department of Justice fingerprinting costing extra, according to the city's Municipal Fee Schedule.

Palo Alto police issue a verbal warning, but fine vendors $300 for each violation if the behavior continues, he said.

In the past six months, the department received 12 complaints about the strawberry sellers. None of them resulted in citations, Nielepko said, but the department is starting to issue tickets.

When Napa began its crackdown, the city sent translators out and used brochures in Spanish to help the vendors understand, Peecook said.

"We wanted to do enforcement and education. A lot of these people who are selling don't understand what they are doing is illegal. They are trained by people who drop them off not to tell the truth. Many got arrested," she said.

But once off the street corners, vendors switched to door-to-door sales, sometimes aggressively. After a time, the police pressure had an effect. People inundated the department seeking permits to set up legal operations, she said.

Getting at the coyotes is difficult, police say. Vendors are taught to lie about their names, ages and addresses. Their bosses tell the men that no one will find them if they lie, and the authorities won't care if they don't pay the fines. But many don't realize those actions make them criminals who might end up serving jail time, police said.

If the vendors are caught up in something of a cat-and-mouse game with the law, they are not without advocates.

Law student Leeron Morad, a Palo Alto resident, became curious about the fruit vendors he saw in his Barron Park neighborhood. After approaching a few men, he became concerned about their plight, he said.

One young vendor was just 15 years old; another said he was frightened to seek better work through Mountain View's Day Worker Center because the coyotes would find his family in Mexico to exact the payment, he said.

"I feel so bad for these people and that they are so scared," said Morad, who has volunteered at the Day Worker Center in Mountain View since April, teaching English to immigrant laborers.

The fruit-vending operations "prey on them. There are no opportunities to speak English or to advance and reach the American dream, which is why they came here in the first place," he added.

Despite claims by sellers such as Paz to be making $50 a day, Morad said the figures don't add up. Ask any vendor the same questions several times during a conversation, and one gets several answers. The true figure, he estimated, is closer to $20 a day.

"Twenty dollars for working 10 hours with no food, no water and no access to a bathroom -- if that's not exploitation, I don't know what is," he said.

He argued that outlawing fruit vending is not going to make them stop.

"It's just going to make them miserable," he said.

Morad approached a group of wary men outside a faded blue house in East Palo Alto last month. He handed them business cards for the Day Worker Center, hoping to convince them a better life with more opportunities is available, he said.

Several men spoke about their experiences as vendors.

"I was arrested yesterday with handcuffs in Santa Clara," Jose said, translating through Morad. "The police think we are selling drugs, but we just sell fruit and nothing more."

Adrian Paz recalled one run-in with the police: "I was told I was already given a ticket in the past, and they took 10 boxes of fruit from me. I lost $180 when they took the boxes. They said they were just going to throw it away."

Samuel said he wants to stay in the U.S. a little longer, despite having been assaulted by one man who kicked the strawberry box into Samuel's face, shouted epithets and racial remarks and spat on him.

"I can't go back with the same amount of money I came here with," Samuel said.

Other vendors have met with greater violence. In San Jose, two door-to-door strawberry sellers were kidnapped, blindfolded and held for ransom, according to Officer Jose Garcia, San Jose Police Department spokesman.

Police posed as the victims' family members, and eventually the men were freed without a ransom being paid. The perpetrators, however, were never found, Garcia said.

"One speculation is these individuals that abducted these men were looking to make a quick buck. Unfortunately, many are non-English speakers. Many don't have legal status here and can be victimized," he said.

Back on San Antonio Road, Morad handed a card to the only woman encountered during two months of interviewing the strawberry vendors.

Laura had only been selling strawberries on the street for one week; already, she felt dispirited, she said.

She has lived in the U.S. for 24 years, working in factories to support her two children. She lost her job because of the economy and hasn't been able to find another, she said. She is one of a growing number of people who had jobs here and have approached vendors to learn how to sell fruit.

Standing outside of a Wells Fargo Bank, she bemoaned the lack of sales. She claimed to make $8 an hour but then characterized her income as unstable.

"I have to stay here the whole day to sell four to five boxes," she said.

Morad isn't buying her minimum-wage claim. The vendors speak as if from a script, he said, but the numbers just don't add up.

When she sold a box of strawberries, Laura clapped her hands together, shaking them toward the heavens. A smile spread on her lips. For a moment, the creases in her face relaxed.

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 4, 2009 at 10:09 am

I feel VERY strong sympathy for the poor people caught up in this exploitation, especially those who never intended to do anything wrong. I have always felt angry at the human trafficers and exploiters, and this does not help my feelings towards them. I feel dispair at the economic realities that drive people to levels of desperation that make them expose themselves to this exploitation. I feel frustration at the lack of an easy solution to this issue. I feel like buying a case of water bottles to keep in my car, and when I see these vendors, hand them one or two.

I would feel uncomfortable buying food from these vendors, due to concerns about the condition and cleanliness of the food. I also don't feel it is right to financially support illegal activities. But how can one not have sympathy for these people?


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Posted by Don G.
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 4, 2009 at 10:26 am

Sympathetic--yes. They are here illeagally. They cross the border willingly so they take their chances with the law, with unscrupulous employers, landlords, etc. If they really want to be in this country they should apply and enter legally so they get the rights and priveledges of living in this country.


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Posted by jardins
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2009 at 10:33 am

I totally agree with what "JustMe" has written. Further, I think there has to be a way for the police to get to the coyotes and jail them, not the vendors.


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Posted by DA
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 4, 2009 at 11:00 am

It is sad what these people are going through. But you must remember,when an area does not enforce the law it will only attract more vendors and then Palo Alto will be over run with vendors, some nice and some not so nice.

I hate that people need to live in such horrible conditions but I also feel that the state of california is partially in the poor economic state it is in due to all of the services provided for undocumented immigrants. We provide education, health care, in some instances even housing.

What about the seniors who have worked all of their lives and find it hard to make ends meet or even buy medicine. The more we help the more will come.

I don't want the vendors victimized but I am sorry, I don't want them in my neighborhood either, there are too many children here to have a strangers romming the neighborhood.


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Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 4, 2009 at 11:22 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 4, 2009 at 11:23 am

The true solution to this problem would be to export the American lifestyle to the countries these people are fleeing from. If their government would allow and enable the economic growth and investments that would improve life there, then there would not be as much desperation to come here. It's a tall order, I know, but I can dream, can't I?


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Posted by anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 4, 2009 at 11:48 am

Export the American lifestyle to Mexico? Are you being sarcastic?
We are importing the Mexican lifestyle here. Capitalism will not thrive in Mexico when there is so much corruption, and it won't thrive here when we have so many desperate people who are willing to do anything for work, and will break the law any chance they get.
We might have gotten more for our money and made more progress invading Mexico than Iraq. Why is it OK for all these people to come down here, but it is not legal for Americans to go into Mexico and buy land and start businesses? And now there are places where the police force and officials are in mortal danger from the criminals in Mexico and even on our side of the border, and still we do nothing?


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Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 4, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Like I said, it is a tall order. But the desperation will not reduce until the economic disparity is reduced.

Mexico's current near-civil war, their history of corruption and nationalizing investments, their legals system and courts, and other factors tend to discourage investment in their country. There are millions of good people there eager for work and there are many businesses her who would like to put them to work. But there are barriers to that investment in Mexico that discourage the investments that could be benefitial to everyone. If we could remove those barriers and obsticals,...

There have been many attempts by American businesses to invest south of the border, many have been disasterous for those that tried.

Personally, I would like to see Mexico pay off its debts to American banks by ceding the state of Sonora to America. The people would love it, and we could easily find ways to repay the banks by giving them land and opprotunities in the new territory.


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Posted by Midtown neibor
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 4, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Great Idea"Just Me" lets still again Mexican land so United States is richer, just like in the past when United States force Mexico to cede 1/3 of its land. Than later we will kicked out the Mexican people living in Sonora, and prohibit Mexicans to come to USA. Perhaps this time the Mexican terrorist will defend its territory and will cut our heads off, like they are doing it in Mexico when somebody intents to still their territory. Why not? Let's start another Mexican War.


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Posted by NR
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 4, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Don, you make it sound as though applying and entering legally is actually possible. USCIS is overburdened. For a fast-track green card application for a highly-educated and highly-paid worker with an experienced immigration attorney, it takes 1-2 years to get the green card if everything goes smoothly. Green cards expire, and you can only apply for them 12 months before it expires, but renewal of a green card often takes 15 months. This shows exactly how overburdened the system is.

For someone from Mexico who isn't on the fast track, who doesn't have a PhD and a high-paying job waiting for them in the States, and who doesn't have access to an experienced and expensive immigration attorney, legal immigration to the US is essentially impossible. But their family is hungry, and the drug war is getting bloodier and bloodier, and they're desperate. They're being taken advantage of, by those who are smuggling them across the border and using them for cheap and disposable labour here.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

JustMe & Anon, AMEN!
Our sanctuary laws, designed to draw talent away from communism, have been perverted to drain away the more adventurous Mexicans who otherwise might have challenged the control of the 400 families and the drug lords. A start, to avoid discrimination charges, would be to REQUIRE police to question the citizenship of ALL arrestees, and to require the immediate deportation of any foreign citizen who falsely claims US citizenship. This practice is reminiscent of the magazine peddler racket where kids were taken far from home and subject to unrealistic quotas and unscrupulous treatment, often encouraging prostitution as a way to pay up as the bills piled up. Compassionate fools who "protect" these people from the law are a part of the problem. Instead of opposing the law, take in the person and assume responsibility for his/her care. churches used to do that.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Thank you to the Weekly for bringing these fruit vendors' story to the forefront. I have been wondering about the true story since I first started seeing them a couple of years ago and wondering why nothing was being done to prevent this. I haven't bought from them because I assumed that they may be stolen property and did not want to let crime pay.

Perhaps the media following the story may make the authorities act.


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Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 4, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Midtown neibor, I feel you are over-reacting to my proposal and putting words in my mouth. I never advocated tue use of force or even coersion. Mexico has been borrowing money from the US and US banks for many years and has had a history of difficulty in even paying the interest on those debts. They have sought debt releif from us. I am just proposing a way to solve the debt problem in a way that would hurt no one. How many people living in Sonora would LOVE to suddenly become US citizens? If they wish to decline citizenship, I am sure we could come up with a way to allow them to keep their Mexican citizenship, or they could leave before the handover date. (I think, more likely, you would see an influx of people into Sonora prior to the handover.)

If we stated our willingness to this solution, and Mexico agreed (unlikely,) then all would be happy and peaceful. The only losers would be the guys who built the smuggling tunnels under the current US/Mexico border and would no longer be needed, but I don't spend much time worrying about their welfare.

I like that solution to the Mexican debt issue far more than just forgiving the debt and letting the American taxpayers take the hit, again. Do you have a better solution? I would love to hear it.


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Posted by Obey the Law
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2009 at 1:23 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2009 at 1:26 pm

After a warning, then a ticket, next time arrest them. Submit fingerprints to ICE, then demand that ICE deport them (they are all illegal aliens). It is easy to discover the exploiters by just watching who drops them off each morning. Investigate the wholesalers in Watsonville, and fine them for violation of food safety rules. Problem solved.

BTW, this would not be a problem, if nobody enabled them by buying from them. Of course, Victor Frost would go away, too, if nobody fed his habits. The single thing that drives this exploitation is liberal guilt, and Palo Alto is full of it.


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Posted by Jessie
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 4, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Very interesting article....... Leave this one up for awhile so people have a chance to read it. I had no idea what was behind these vendors selling fruit. I was getting my hair cut the other day and one walked in and sold strawberries to at least 4 of the stylists. Thanks for the info and I will certainly pass it on.


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Posted by Maria
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 4, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Everyone needs to top buying anything from illegal vendors. As a food business owner, the laws are quite tight and keeping up with them is tough in order to protect the consumer.

If you have sympathy for these people, the best thing to do is to donate your money to the anti-immigration efforts so that this sort of thing doesn't get out of control.

Buying from them is akin to giving money to the homeless straight-out, it perpetuates a problem that is huge and should be deal for by the government, thus derailing it effort to cope with the problem.


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Posted by Dan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm

I really don't get it and you (the writers of the article) don't get it either. What part of "undocumented" and "illegal" do you not understand? This is not the coyotes fault, although they should be strung up by their heels in the desert for taking the money from these illegals. It's the illegals, who know exactly what they are doing by breaking into this country illegally. Pick every one of them up, and send them back to Mexico today. Do we REALLY need street vendors in our neighborhoods selling fruit? Huh?


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 4, 2009 at 3:29 pm

If high speed rail comes, then it will be more easier for anyone to come to palo alto. How we will handel that ? Life is very hard . People are suffring so much.Not all people who come here illegaly are bad . They come to work. They have family who is starving . But the fact is law is law and every one has to obey that. Illeagl imigretion problem is going on so many years and our leaders are ignoring that . they want votes to get elected and for that our leaders are responsible for all this sithuation. Poor, hard working people are victoms in every country.


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Posted by joey
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 4, 2009 at 5:46 pm

joey is a registered user.

The people commenting above are completely missing the point.

These people don't have water, food, or access to a bathroom for their whole work-day.
Asking the police to arrest them will only add to their woes.

Instead, all it takes is giving them a safe place in which they can sell their fruit, giving them info on getting licensed so that they can do it legally and in a sanitary way. When we give them these things, we are also giving back to our community, because they are here too, they are a part of our community.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 4, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Every vendor we leave on the streets of Palo Alto just helps promote the business of the Coyotes. That encourages them to bring in more illegals and of course increase the number of miserable Mexicans on our street working as indentured servants.

None of us win in this. There is so much wrong with this including the idea that it is hard to stop.

How about follow the shipments of fruits and payments to the collection points and arrest the people there? How about track the vans that drop these people off?

There is no excuse whatsoever for our city, county and state not to put an end to this in total-coyotes, illegal aliens and illegal vendors.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 4, 2009 at 6:02 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

If we do trade land for debt, take Baja.


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Posted by Obey the Law
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2009 at 9:05 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2009 at 9:13 pm

We are not responsible for corruption and overpopulation in the 3rd world.

We do have significant responsibility for the illegal drug trade coming from the 3rd world, as we are major customers. The drug trade could be crushed by legalization and taxation. Indeed, we could balance the State budget if we went this route.


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Posted by Tom
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Their breaking tax laws as well. Why can an illegal alien set up a business on any street corner they want, without permits and paying taxes?


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Posted by anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 5, 2009 at 12:50 am

It is not just the drug lords in mexico that are not willing to play by the rules. mexicos telephone company charges their customers higher rates because their lobby does not allow competition and deregulation in Mexico. There are the haves and the have nots ... and they do not want to change. Sound familiar?


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Posted by hope
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 5, 2009 at 9:54 am

This is a sad situation but it looks to me like the problems of illegal immigration are increasing. It is not PC to ask our leaders to enforce the laws. Very strange, upside down situation. These people come here for a better life and most of us are very sympathetic. But we must obey our laws. There has to be a lawful way to allow more immigrants into the USA. I find it appalling that people who want the laws obeyed are considered evil while our leaders keep perpetuating this problem for the over 50 years.


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 5, 2009 at 10:11 am

If it is widely known that these guys are in the U.S. illegally, why isn't ICE picking them up and deporting them? I will call ICE on Monday and make the request. Normally I am more passive, but some of the comments I've read here are too outrageous for me to tolerate.


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Posted by stop the enabling.
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 5, 2009 at 10:29 am

Part of the problem with south of our border has been that we, as someone said, allow the most adventurous and hard working to come here, illegally, instead of assuring they stay home and bring about the changes in their own countries that need to happen. I read a couple years ago that 1/7th of all employed Mexicans were employed in the USA..uh..what would happen to their corruption and govt if these hard working, motivated people had to stay home and fix their country?

We have been enablers, codependent fools in our combined kindheartedness and exploitative greed. Time to stop. Send them home. Shut the border. Find organizations you trust to help the people in their own countries, and send money to assure people don't starve and kids get vaccines. Then let them work out their problems in their countries.

Too harsh? I don't know. In the long run, how many fewer will suffer if we stop enabling the worst governments?

In the meantime, how do I say "no" to people turning my country into the plazas of Mexico, accosting me on sidewalks, sending children INTO private businesses (it happened to me in a nail place), to buy their fruit? It angers me and makes me want to buy, all at the same time. There is a reason I DIDN'T go to Mexico more than once, and it was this very behavior!


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Posted by No thanques
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 5, 2009 at 11:37 am

Allowing the street vendors to sell on street corners is another example of the lax code enforcement that advertises to every passerby that local ordinances and laws are hardly ever enforced.


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Posted by joey
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 5, 2009 at 1:56 pm

joey is a registered user.

Such bitter racist undertones in what you people are saying.

Want to talk about violations of laws? The people who make these poor immigrants work all day without food or water are violating our labor laws. Why not go after them instead of the fruit sellers?
Why not give a thirsty man a bottle of water?

We have an opportunity to assure that people don't get abused and mistreated here in Palo Alto; a chance to make change for the better. Instead all you think about is how to stop the 'influx of Mexicans' into the US.


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2009 at 5:05 pm

"Why not give a thirsty man a bottle of water?"

That's a good question. If they are dropped off by their pimps, without water, then you should ask the pimps. The humanitarian thing to do is to arrest them, and then deport them back to Mexico, where water is avaialbe.


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Posted by Maria
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 5, 2009 at 5:35 pm

We are enabling the coyotes when we allow the street vendors to continue selling on street corners. We are enabling, encouraging actually, illegal immigration. Legitimate local vendors face loss of business because of low prices with which they simply can not compete. Remember, business taxes help support our community.
Yes, the illegal immigrants’ plight is sad, but unless we maintain our standards, we too could become the weak and the exploited as unscrupulous employers take more and more advantage of illegal workers.

There's nothing wrong in contacting ICE and asking for enforcement of our immigration laws. 1-866-DHS-2-ICE Indeed, doing so would benefit those illegal immigrants and their home country by forcing them (yes, forcing!) to work in their own country to make it strong economically.
1-866-DHS-2-ICE





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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Sanctuary cities, and the whole mindset behind that doesn't come from sympathy for the plight of these people, it's only sold that way to play on the sympathy of others.

Wherever there are "sanctuary" movements, the ones behind it are the rich liberals who promulgate this stuff, because they are the beneficiaries of the (21st century slave) labor.

I'd love to see an ICE raid on the gardeners and domestic help in Crescent Park, followed by prosecution of those who hire the illegals.


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Posted by joey
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 5, 2009 at 8:11 pm

joey is a registered user.

Yes, that's right Maria, force them to work in Mexico where no jobs are available.
Are you listening to yourself?!?


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2009 at 9:21 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Don't Have Em If You Don't Want 'Em
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2009 at 9:40 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Obey the Law
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2009 at 10:35 pm

::::Yes, that's right Maria, force them to work in Mexico where no jobs are available.

::::Are you listening to yourself?!?

I listened to Maria and I agree with her. These people are in the United States illegally. What I don't agree with is you Joey. (AKA palo alto online)

We are a nation of laws and these invaders need to face the consequences of the laws they are breaking.


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Posted by Kelly
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 5, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Actually the US businesses/people are somewhat complicit in the illegal immigration to US. Here are a few examples:
1) meat packers bussing in illegal immigrants 300 miles away (already living in US) to live in town and work at the plants
2) US exporting corn/beans to Mexico resulting in destruction of Mexican farming industry. Most of these farmers have migrated illegally to US
3) US residents purchasing the illegal drugs that fuel the drug wars. Mexican residents are fleeing the violence in mexico when coming to US


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Posted by Sophia
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 5, 2009 at 11:58 pm

Even though I have not bought fruit from the street vendors, it does strike me that this is their true story. Definitely very sad. The other thing that strikes me is all this self-righteousness talk about not supporting illegals. We ALL support them, whether we acknowledge it or not. Who do you suppose that picks up most of the fruit produce around farms? And do you think the gardeners hired by your condo to cut the grass and blow away the leaves are ALL legal? What about your house-cleaning service? There are people working at Fedex who are illegal.
Restaurant workers (mostly the ones you don't see), drivers (pizza delivery), nannies (some of them with bachelor degrees from their home countries), hair salon workers, you name it.
Oh, the milk pail, in Mountain View. Do you think all the labor force moving, washing, sorting the fruits and vegetables are ALL legal? Those guys shaking signs of "closing sale".
I do not think working illegally is acceptable, after all, it is against the law. However, it seems illegals do most of the work no American citizens want to do.
The difference is that the fruit vendors are too exposed. No one would care about them being illegal if they were hidden in a kitchen. Or mowing the lawn.


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Posted by Fred Jones
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2009 at 8:28 am

Contact your Mayor and demand inforcement of health and safetly violations and if your looking for a Police Chief Who is weak with dealing with Day Laborers Chief Rothaus is your man. Come check out The Home Depot in San Carlos.It started with about two people now there is close to eighty people loitering in the parking lot everyday and then they comeback in the middle of the night and steal recyclables and look for things to steal from cars. Wake up do-gooders with illegal immigration comes crime. Check out American Patrol Report and get informed!


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Posted by solutions I agree with
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 6, 2009 at 9:46 am

The true bastion of irrational thought with nothing to counter: call those you disagree with a name, ( racist or self-righteous seem to be the 2 so far, I await greedy and mean)and stomp off witout offering any solutions that fix the problem.

bravo!

Me, I support fining like mad those busted for hiring undocumenteds, and sending the one we find home...all the way home. And a good border fence to stop the inflow. And, personally, I like taking responsibility myself for one child in Mexico, and will follow my mother's lead and "adopt" a kid through the program she uses, whereby she sends $10/month, and it keeps a child in food, school, clothes and medical care.




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Posted by Maria
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 6, 2009 at 10:42 am

Joey, in future please read comments carefully before replying.

There are few jobs in Mexico for people to return to--true enough, but if those same people stayed and fought for their country and worked to create jobs instead of running away from their problems to seek an easier solution in the US, then there would be jobs for illegals to get when they returned home. My goodness, there could even be no reason to come here in the first place. As things stand, there is little incentive for corrupt leaders in Mexico to make any changes to the status quo.

As long as we tolerate illegal immigration, the immigrants won't be challenging the situation in Mexico or working to change it. Mexico needs to clean its own house, and not expect ongoing bailout from the US. If it takes a revolution, then so be it.

(Surely you have noticed that the US is so broke its borrowing money from China—to lend to Mexico?)


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Posted by Lou
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 6, 2009 at 11:02 am

Joey,

You have no clue as to what the main point of this issue is. If you think it is to protect these illegal vendors then you are way off base. It is your way of thinking that helps perpetuate the problem.


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Posted by an easy solution
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Sep 6, 2009 at 11:49 am

When I called the police non-emergency number to inform them of a particular vendor, after asking my name and address and the race of the vendor they went and talked to them. They helped contact and stayed until a van picked up the vendor, and the vendor stayed away from that corner for two years.

Apparently, enforcement is complaint-based, and a relatively small number of calls will help keep this exploitation under control. Independent of any concerns about Mexico and California and illegal workers and victims of slave labor practices, which I admit are the larger issues, these vendors don't have a license and are not meeting health codes. We can perhaps eliminate their presence from our area because it will prove to be too much trouble for the exploiters, who look for the easy path.

And I do believe that once successful with selling vegetables illegally, the exploiters will find a strong temptation to exploit in other ways here.


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Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2009 at 2:24 pm

I am not surprised at the rapid and effective police enforcement in the Esther Clark Park neighborhood. That park is surrounded on three sides by Los Altos Hills. What about the police response in the rest of Palo Alto where most people live?


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2009 at 5:32 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2009 at 10:20 pm

The sale of produce outside of a regulated environment is a Public Health Issue.

The Department of Health should look into these unregulated sales of food products as a matter of Public Hygiene Laws.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 7, 2009 at 12:18 am

Reading all this I am reminded of the scene in the movie Casablanca...where the Viche French are raiding Mr. Rick's bar..

"I am shocked, shocked, that gambling is going on!"

"Your winnings sir"


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Posted by a nice person
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 7, 2009 at 10:29 am

I've bought strawberries from these vendors before. I'm going to keep buying from them. And next time I will give them a bottle of water and a sandwich. SO THERE!


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Posted by Yuck
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2009 at 11:35 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Those strawberries come from the same fields and are picked by the same people that pick the strawberries sold to Whole Foods and Safeway. There are no more diseases on those strawberries than any other.

Furthermore, every human, every single human deserves certain things. We protect criminals in our jails even after they steal from us. They get three warm meals, a soft bed, medical attention, and a roof over their head. Why? Because they are human. Illegal immigrants are human also and deserve the same. Slow down the rate of illegal entry, fine. Send them back once you catch them, fine. But we are civilized people and can not deny them rights humans are afforded. Once here they are our problem, no one elses.

I see the way people in your community treat those with less than you. It's frightening and appalling. Whether they are government workers, blue collar workers, homeless, or immigrants, you treat them like they are less than you.


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Posted by Obey the Law
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2009 at 2:53 pm

>>>> Because they are human. Illegal immigrants are human also and deserve the same. Slow down the rate of illegal entry, fine. Send them back once you catch them, fine. But we are civilized people and can not deny them rights humans are afforded. Once here they are our problem, no one elses.


They are not less human they are however criminals. They illegally entered OUR country from THEIR country. This is a crime in our land.

I agree with arrest them provide clothes to them if necessary and feed them of course.
But in 24 hours they should be headed back to THEIR country. PERIOD.

As an aside point Anon, you should go to the border and watch (with night vision) how they are herded by the coyotes. You might sing a different song about human dignity.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2009 at 3:35 pm

How does the way they are treated by the "coyotes" affect they way they are treated once here? I don't understand your point.

These people are so desperate to eek out a living that they leave everything they've ever loved behind, having been mislead into thinking they can improve the lives of their families. They risk their lives thinking they might make enough money to feed their kids or even themselves.

When was the last time you had to give up everything? When was the last time you had to fight for anything? And, wouldn't you risk breaking a few laws to feed your kids, or your parents? Have you ever been hungry enough to be willing to do anything for food? I know it's hard to have sympathy for a people that you are so far removed from. But perhaps if you just tried for a moment.

Treating them like animals does nothing for anyone. It causes unrest and distrust amoung all sectors of America. I think that people like so many of you on this forum cause a much bigger problem than the illegal immigrants do. They thrive on the negativity that their comments stirs.

It's time to get past the "this is mine and that is yours" mentality. You're grown ups now, not children. It's a small world, even in places like Palo Alto. Until all people are treated equally none of us stand a chance.

I must admit that I am curious about how many of you have illegal immigrants as nanny's and maids.


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Posted by MJ
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2009 at 3:40 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2009 at 4:15 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Charity is important, and local churches deserve our financial and volunteer support to relieve suffering here and abroad.
The larger problem belongs to Mexico--They to reform their economy to make it work, stop corruption, and stop blaming us for their problems.
Denial is not a good long term strategy.


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 8, 2009 at 6:36 am

Saw a quote the other day that kind of summed it up for me..

"Poor Mexico. So far from God and so close to the United States."

I am sure for any Mexican citizen those words ring bitterly true and deep. Whine that it's blame, but standing back and looking at the degeneration of their country it sure fits. Then some blame their leaders because they haven't been more willing over the ages to pimp out their country to us.

We provide the drug money, we provide the guns. Then we did NAFTA on them. They provide the rest.


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Posted by ANEM fact-checker
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2009 at 7:18 am

"we provide the guns"

Jeez. Why do we continue to see this comment when it's been proven to be completely wrong? Why do people still repeat these kinds of falsities? Oh, because it was on the Internet.

By the way ANEM, your posts seem to make you look like a self-hating American. Do you always blame yourself for others' problems?


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 8, 2009 at 7:45 am

Web Link

When Hilary Clinton mentioned this the right wing spin machine went to work in predictable fashion.

Of course if one goes to Fox News for the source of all true and righteous then one can find other "information" and believe it's been proven.

Criminals here routinely trade guns from the USA for drugs from Mexico. It's double leverage for profit.

As for

"By the way ANEM, your posts seem to make you look like a self-hating American. Do you always blame yourself for others' problems?"

I am not a self-hating American. I don't hate myself or America (which I assume you mean North America minus Canada, Mexico, etc.?).

I don't always blame myself for others' problems...though in some situations and with some people I may bear some responsibility.

This thread started with a description of slavery and human bondage right under our noses. Then migrated to broader issues as regards Mexico and the US.

But then I suppose you think Hilary Clinton is also a "self-hating American" as she somewhat backed up my perspective. And she is our Secretary of State now.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2009 at 8:01 am



A historical question--

Why did the countries that were once part of the British Empire do so well, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Hong Kong, Singapore etc--- do so well.

While countries that were once part empires of Spain, Portugal and France---- do so poorly.

I think it has to do with the British history of law, government, free trade and other institutions .


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Posted by jazzman
a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2009 at 9:36 am

we should not feel sorry for these folks. we need to help the ones that are already here legally and help the recently unemployeed.

i say fine these guys big time to get rid of them. I just wonder how many also commit crimes in our areas!!!

stop being a bleeding heart and make them sell their wares legally.


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 8, 2009 at 9:48 am

Now you're getting all David Hanson on us!

You leave out countries which were also Briish colonies..

China, India (not exactly doing well), Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), Zambia, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Kenya, and on and on....

One could argue that Brazil in many ways is the equal of India.

With a few small exceptions it seems that your real point would be better made by describing the "successful" countries as former British colonies which were inaugurated by a heavy British white settler component. The countries who had originally white British citizens as their core obviously rode the imperial advantage, even surpassing it as we picked up the pieces after WWII.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Anon says-
'It's time to get past the "this is mine and that is yours" mentality. You're grown ups now, not children. It's a small world, even in places like Palo Alto. Until all people are treated equally none of us stand a chance.'

Certainly understand the It's time to get past the "this is mine and that is yours" mentality. That is exactly the basis for communism. Don't want it. I believe you will find that even here most others don't want it either. Best local bet for promoting that argument is Berkeley.

"Until all people are treated equally none of us stand a chance." I am expected to obey the law, and mostly do. When I don't I pay the penalty in the form of fines (speeding tickets), restrictions or worse. The very same should go for illegal immigrants, and their coyote enablers, and anyone else who enables illegal immigration and illegal residence.

This state is not able to pay its own bills, much less imported ones. And we also have more than enough criminals-as evidenced by the fact that CA is getting ready to release a very large number of them because we are 'over capacity'.

For a great many years the people of the US and California have been very generous with massive contributions to both charities and welfare. There is no need to subsidize the Mexican coyote industry.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Whoa! Little pent up anger there Mike.

I'm not saying they should get to come here willy nilly and get treated like royalty. Your jump to communism was silly and extreme. People have a right to work as much as they want to get as much as they can. I think that's part of the greatness of this society. I'm not sure why you think I thought otherwise.

All of that being said, every single human being deserves food, medicine and shelter. No matter what. We could toss our murderers and rapists in a hole in the ground and let them catch rats if they feel like eating. But we don't, because we are civilized. Some of these people (the ones that don't get the cushy nanny and housekeeper jobs) live in conditions not much better than my example. Yet you think it's ok, because they're illegal.

Again, I ask simple questions, that no one here has yet to answer (I'm beginning to wonder if you have the courage to be honest):

1. Would you not be willing to break a few laws if it meant the difference between watching your children go hungry or feeding them? If you were led to believe that you could go to Canada and sell enough (insert product of choice) to send more money home to your wife and kids than you have ever made in your whole life, knowing you could never stay here and provide for them because there is no work at home, would you not do it?

2. How many of you have illegal nanny's and housekeepers? Have you checked the citizen status of your gardener? The guys that put a new roof on your house? What about the nice mom that does a car pool with your kids every day? Do you check the status of everyone you do business with, or just those with accents? Or, just those with a certain color skin or hair? Where do you draw the line?

Again, I do not advocate giving these folks the world. But, we can not deny them the basics we ourselves wouldn't want to go with out. If you could put yourself in their position just for a moment you might not judge so harshly. Perhaps you should try it. After all, your big, fat cushy paychecks aren't as safe as they once were. How long could your family survive with no money coming in? And then what?


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Posted by Mr. Sarcastic
a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2009 at 3:58 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2009 at 4:27 pm

This thread has devolved into an argument about the realtive merits of Mexico vs the USA. I just want the street venders to be arrested, then deported. They can take up their beef with their own government and homeland.

Just today, the FDA has demanded that any food safety issues be reported within 24 hours. Is anybody seriously suggesting that these illegals are going to do that? They are already breaking several laws, so why should they suddenly obey another?


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Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2009 at 4:59 pm

I haven't read the posts about Mexico vs. America even though I thought I had read the entire thread. But if you want, I would say that both are lovely places full of good people and bad. Both are full of citizens that will take advantage of those with less. Both are full of people that spend their time insulting others in forums they'll never see. There are people in both that will do anything to feed their families. And there are people in both that will do anything to protect their own stuff, while mocking those that are denied. It's not good or bad, it's simply people I guess.

Please explain what the food safety issues are. These strawberries are grown on the same farms that grow Safeway produce, picked by the same laborers as the strawberries for Safeway are, and sold through the same channels. Basic food chain principals - we don't have separate "good" strawberry fields, and separate "yucky" strawberry fields. Safeway, Whole Foods and your cute little neighborhood market aren't only buying from farmers that prove their strawberries are only picked by good, clean, law-abiding American Citizens.

At the risk of repeating myself, they are here. They are our problem. Wipping them out like insects won't solve the issue. Treat them like humans, work with them to either return them home or enter them into temporary work visa programs, make sure they are offered the same legal working conditions we all demand. Rounding them all up like cattle and sending them home will cost your precious money too. Why not funnel it into useful scenarios that benefit everyone?

Again, my lonely questions for the people of Palo Alto (I figure if I keep repeating them someone might enlighten me as I really am curious about where some of you stand with these questions):

1. Would you not be willing to break a few laws if it meant the difference between watching your children go hungry or feeding them? If you were led to believe that you could go to Canada and sell enough (insert product of choice) to send more money home to your wife and kids than you have ever made in your whole life, knowing you could never stay here and provide for them because there is no work at home, would you not do it?

2. How many of you have illegal nanny's and housekeepers? Have you checked the citizen status of your gardener? The guys that put a new roof on your house? What about the nice mom that does a car pool with your kids every day? Do you check the status of everyone you do business with, or just those with accents? Or, just those with a certain color skin or hair? Where do you draw the line?



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Posted by Mr. Sarcastic
a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2009 at 5:08 pm

You can remove my post, but that doesn't make my points any less valid. It's funny, if I were to write those things in a serious manner you would be fine with that, but to be sarcastic is too much for your fragile mind. You can remove this post too for all I care.


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 8, 2009 at 5:32 pm

"At the risk of repeating myself, they are here. They are our problem."

Not if we arrest them, and then deport them for breaking our laws. They then become their own country's problem.


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Posted by Mat
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 8, 2009 at 5:45 pm

I was glad to read this article as I didn't know the back story on the men who stand at my street corner everyday. I have almost been hit by a car 2x by people trying to get to the fruit guys who are selling where there is no street lane easement. When I called palo alto police to report the illegal sale of items in a non-commercial area that was endangering pedistrians, I was told that the police had "better things to do."

Now I wait for someone to get hit so my brother can sue the City as the City was notified by me several times that this activity causes a safety situation for the people who live in my neighborhood. If PA won't enforce their laws then we will all have to pay for lawsuits from injured people I guess.


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 8, 2009 at 10:13 pm

In case anyone is interested in an in-depth look at what is driving people into becoming human slaves among us....

Web Link

Interesting that we have modern day slaves among us and all people want to do is re-enact a modern day variant of the Dred Scott Decision....they are Mexico's property so round 'em up and send them back.

Do some of you ever feel like your essentially modern day Marie Antionette's? That you are on the wrong side of history? Just an inkle now and then?

It will be interesting if ever the Mexican population is ever bottled up inside Mexico ala Lou Dobbs dreams--without the political and social pressure release of coming to El Norte. And the money formerly sent back would dry up. A revolution might come quicker to our border than you think. Backed up by El Salvador (FMLN in power), Nicaragua (FSLN in power), Venezuala (Hugo Chavez in power), Honduras (Zelaya to be restored soon), Cuba (those wild and crazy guys the Castro brothers), Brazil, Chile, etc.

And if the jobs now being done by the undocumented workers are then by necessity done by Americans......it'll be the 1930's all over again.

Be careful what ye wish for.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2009 at 8:14 am

I must admit I am disappointed. I was hoping I could get at least one elite Palo Alto person to try to put themselves in to these peoples shoes. I'm not thinking I could change your minds or anything, I know that these feelings run too deep for that. I was just thinking that a tiny spark of compassion can be contagious- hopefully more so than bigotry.


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 9, 2009 at 11:37 am

"Please explain what the food safety issues are. These strawberries are grown on the same farms that grow Safeway produce, picked by the same laborers as the strawberries for Safeway are, and sold through the same channels."

Not quite.

If there is an E.coli outbreak, as there was with spinach, the Safeway is immediately informed, and it takes its produce off the shelf, awaiting FDA testing. Do you really think these illegal aliens are going to call up the FDA and submit samples, if their produce is contaminated with E.coli? Also, the produce is probably coming from the same initial source, but the handling of it beyond that point is quite different. Do the handlers wear plastic gloves, or at least wash their hands before handling, as is required by most mainstream grocery stores?

The liberal guilt being manifested by some of the posters on this thread is palpable. I got over it years ago, and now I just want our laws to be enforced. Arrest them, then deport them.


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Posted by strawberry eater
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 9, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Go watch "A Day Without a Mexican" Web Link

What you guys don't realize is that California relies strongly on the Mexicans who pick our fruit and do the hard minimum wage labor that we turn our noses up to. Be grateful that they're willing to come here and provide us with fresh fruit and vegetables.


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Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Posted by an easy solution, a resident of the Esther Clark Park neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2009 at 11:49 am

When I called the police non-emergency number to inform them of a particular vendor, after asking my name and address and the race of the vendor they went and talked to them. They helped contact and stayed until a van picked up the vendor, and the vendor stayed away from that corner for two years.

Apparently, enforcement is complaint-based, and a relatively small number of calls will help keep this exploitation under control.

-----------------------

Posted by Deep Throat, a resident of another community, on Sep 6, 2009 at 2:24 pm

I am not surprised at the rapid and effective police enforcement in the Esther Clark Park neighborhood. That park is surrounded on three sides by Los Altos Hills. What about the police response in the rest of Palo Alto where most people live?

-------------------------------

Posted by Mat, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, 20 hours ago

I was glad to read this article as I didn't know the back story on the men who stand at my street corner everyday. I have almost been hit by a car 2x by people trying to get to the fruit guys who are selling where there is no street lane easement. When I called palo alto police to report the illegal sale of items in a non-commercial area that was endangering pedistrians, I was told that the police had "better things to do."


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Posted by Tim
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 9, 2009 at 2:21 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Tom
a resident of Woodside
on Sep 9, 2009 at 4:02 pm

1. Strawberries are probably the most environmentaly unfriendly crop there is. They use extensive fumigation and pesticides and require new plastic sheeting and drip hoses after each crop. Yet it is the second most profitable crop. We all know what number one is.

2. Strawberry picking is extremely labor intensive. You're bent over all day picking with a quota to meet. The season starts in the south and moves north, so do the laborers. The average migrant worker is a twenty-eight-year-old male, born in Mexico, who earns about $5,000 a year for twenty-five weeks of farm work. His life expectancy is forty-nine years.

3. Many growers don't pay overtime, withold taxes, pay workman's comp. premiums to keep labor costs low, utilizing the shareholder system.

Like it or not, taxes pay for our roads, wars, defense, SCHOOLS, keeping nonviable US companies alive, etc. Taxes will pay for this wacko health care idea, keeping the lazy people who don't mow their own lawns alive for a couple extra years. Just wait until people confront you on the street for wasting tax dollars because you are overweight, have bad posture, or partake in risky activities.

The world is full of people living in poverty. The US is full of people that live in poverty. Poor people in the US don't pay federal income tax, in fact they are credited for working. Hence, the guy selling strawberries on the street shouldn't be taxed either, if in fact he is poor. But, somewhere down the line, somebody is making plenty of money off this low level seller and not paying tax. Likely the money is going into gang activity with funds ultimately going to Mexico. I'm sure plenty of that money turns around and comes back to haunt us in the way of drug trafficing, prostitution and general crime.

Then there's the blight issue. I live in a first world country. I expect order. Living here isn't cheap. Sure it's fun and exciting to celebrate diversity, but strawberries should be sold in either a store, a farmers market, a farmers stand, grown by the consumer or given as a gift by someone who grew them. Outside of these venues, I'd tollerate a local kid selling strawberries he/she grew on a street corner, in the same spirit as a lemonade stand. An adult setting up shop on the street corner may be expected in Mexico, not here, where we have a traditional system that has proven to be very effective on a global scale thoughout the years. I do not wish to change said system, nor modify it, because of a feeling of guilt, or because I think I can change the whole world. I can't. I have a hard time finding a job myself and after procuring the American middle class standard of shelter and food, I have nothing left but credit card debt to offer the world.


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm

"What you guys don't realize is that California relies strongly on the Mexicans..."

Translation: Human slavery is as good for us as it was for the plantation owners in the Old South. There is some truth to your statement, but you forget that slave wages and exploitation are not good for any society. Cesar Chavez wanted to stop mechanization of the harvest, becasue he could build his union on the backs of brown slaves. Now we have white liberals in Palo Alto excusing brown slavery. When will the slavery end, unless we ban it?


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Posted by jb
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 9, 2009 at 4:56 pm

The easiest way to stop all this illegal stuff is to get citizens to do the work illegals are doing. If you have a teenager, functioning or not, an unemployed brother-in-law, are out of work yourself, get yourself to a farm pronto. Present yourself for employment and take those jobs so they won't be there for an illegal to risk life and limb sneaking into this country to take.

No family with a teenager on the premises ought to be hiring out the mowing of the lawn, care of pets, care of younger siblings, or washing of the car(s).

Saturday morning everyone gets up, gathers up, washes, and irons the laundry, cleans the house, plans and shops next week's menues, washes the dog, trims the hedge. Kids sit down for the weekend's homework. Then everyone goes to the movie to celebrate their communal accomplishment. (Sorry, to all you anti-communists, but family life is communal life.)

The above activity should keep everyone too busy to smoke pot or snort coke. Voila, one more vice eliminated.

And it coarsens all of society to allow anyone to go without food, clothes, shelter, and medical care. It coarsens all of society when we abuse or allow lawbreakers to be abused. It coarsens us because it accustoms us to ignoring the plight of these people.


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 9, 2009 at 5:41 pm

"The easiest way to stop all this illegal stuff is to get citizens to do the work illegals are doing..."

Yes, pretty much. We need to embrace the work ethic, as well as full automation of current physical and service labor, in order to increase the productivity that leads to a living wage.

The current white liberal ethic in Palo Alto is to honor the slave in the fields and on our streets, and also honor luddites, like Ceasar Chavez, who wanted to keep 'em in the furrows, bent backs, so that he could profit from the slavery.

Why should slaves pick crops, when machines can do it better, without the destruction of human bodies? Why should human trafficking be allowed in Palo Alto, just becasue it allows white liberals to feel good about slavery?


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 9, 2009 at 7:19 pm


Health concerns are valid.

They should also apply to some produce grown in EPA close to toxic sites and sold in PA farmers markets.

This EPA area has very high lead, mercury and PCP levels.
yet you see this produce for sale in PA on Saturdays, we should have health standards for all vendors, not just street sellers,but also farmers market vendors.


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 9, 2009 at 7:47 pm

"The easiest way to stop all this illegal stuff is to get citizens to do the work illegals are doing. If you have a teenager, functioning or not, an unemployed brother-in-law, are out of work yourself, get yourself to a farm pronto. Present yourself for employment and take those jobs so they won't be there for an illegal to risk life and limb sneaking into this country to take."

And would the employers interview them and want to hire them over a very motivated and submissive undocumented worker? I have this image of someone taking a bunch of PA unemployed folks and have them stand around outside Home Depot, holding up signs saying "Hire Us, We're Citizens!". The image of PA citizens replacing the City Workers (if there is a strike) was funny enough. This is even more so.

How many here have ever done farm labor? I have picked tomatoes for months 12 hours/day. Done crop dusting 16 hour days, melons, onions, etc. And I hauled garbage on my back for years (nickname was "The Great White Hope"). I did it only because my back was to the wall and I was desperate.

The thought of the Palo Alto citizenry (young, old, etc.), indeed most of the USA citizenry, doing the jobs the undocumented workers routinely do, is hilarious to ponder. It could happen--people can adapt pretty quick when FORCED to, but the daily grind, the daily reality, would bring about a lot of changes in consciousness and perspective. No one is going to do this just because they think it's a good idea.

Better to keep the citizens entertained in the Arena and have the more marginalized cheap labor do the work.

Jack, Chavez fought for better wages and living conditions for farmworkers. Does anyone seriously think that Chavez could have ever stopped mechanization? I don't know if he was for or against it--he may have given a speech decrying some machine which might have put people out of work. But was there ever a law passed, or even contemplated, which prevented agricultural mechanization? I found a reference on some right wing site saying that Tomato harvesting mechanization was stopped...but I worked on such a device in the early 70's.

It is a linguistic trick to say that "liberals" who have compassion for the plight of the undocumented are then helping to further slavery. The Strawberry vendors are a modern variant of human bondage, but the vast majority work for set wages.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 9, 2009 at 7:59 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 10, 2009 at 4:06 pm

"Does anyone seriously think that Chavez could have ever stopped mechanization? "

Chavez abosolutely demanded that UC Davis stop reserach on mechanization, and it did. This is historic fact.

Chavez was a selfish luddite, and he was very eager to live on the top of the backs of his (mostly) brown slaves. UFW was a cause, not a real union...it never eally dleivered on its promises, but it certainly appealed to limolibs in the Bay Area. I spent many months working in the fields, and it is a real backbreaker. Interesting, I spent months picking tomatoes, but never 12 hour per day. I worked on Mexcian national crews (braceros), and they never worked more than 9 hours per day, usually 8. Crop dusting 16 hours/day? I know several crop dusters, and they only worked mornings, because the winds picked up in the afternoon. Makes me doubt your personal story.


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 10, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Chavez may have had UC stop researching more mechanization. But I worked on a Tomatoe Harvester just west of Sacramento about 1971 or so. I remember it was at least 12 hours because everyone on the setup never knew if the shift was over until it stopped. It was mechanized. Unless you are talking about some future mechanization, one that could perhaps sort the tomatoes?

Crop dusting was done way north of there. The winds weren't a problem. Doubt all you want. How did you work "on" a bracero crew if (I assume) you are a US citizen? Did you apply for citizenship or something? Or an undercover reporter?

As far as the supportive "evidence" as regards your charges against Chavez, you can find a boatload of it on all the right wing websites galore, people who never had any concern for farmworkers to begin with. I am not very cognizant of the details of the UFW, always thought they were not militant enough back then (standing around picketing stores never appealed to me). But to call the farmworker's Chavez's "brown slaves" makes your whole point kind of collapse.


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 10, 2009 at 4:52 pm

The labor split in the fields, back when I was in the field labor pool, was "locals" vs "nationals". The local crews were less productive, and the nationals were very productive. Locals could join the nationals crews, if they showed the ability to pick tomatoes as a high rate, like I did. This was hand picking, in wood boxes, not mechanized. I worked on several national crews, becasue I wanted to earn more money. It was all piece rate, not hourly, like some of the local crews.

Chavez stopped any UC Davis research on mechanization, beyond the crude machines you claim to have worked on. You can claim 12 hrs/day all you want, but I never saw anything like it, despite thousnads of hours in the fields, with the hardest working crews around. I don't believe you.

" Done crop dusting 16 hour days..."

Please name the outfit that did that. I have never known one, but you, apparently, do.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 10, 2009 at 5:46 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 10, 2009 at 6:37 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 10, 2009 at 10:30 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Paula
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 18, 2009 at 1:01 pm

To those who can't read properly, but blather on regarding safety of the vendors' wares, the text in the article is:
Vendors sold everything from strawberries to pork rinds, hawking their wares from shopping carts, ... In home kitchens where the food was prepared, Peecook found "absolutely horrendous" conditions: insects in the frying oil, mice, filth and outdoor kitchens, she said.
Some vendors in the bay area do sell prepared food which I would never eat here or in Mexico (having seen people get violantly ill after doing so). But back to the strawberries, vendors who handle the strawberries do not have access to toilets and running water to wash their hands. They handle their genitals and the strawberries. TB, hepatitus, e. coli -- ETC. I'm buying my food in a clean-looking grocery store that has a bathroom for employees with a sign that mandates that hands must be washed.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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