Civil rights groups Wednesday praised the repeal of a Costa Mesa ordinance that prohibited day laborers from soliciting work on public streets.
"Workers whose goals are to put food on their tables and who are exercising their First Amendment rights to do so will no longer have to fear harassment at the hands of their city," said attorney Lucero Chavez of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The city of Costa Mesa can no longer restrict their fundamental rights."
The ACLU, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and National Day Labor Organizing Network filed a federal lawsuit in February 2010 challenging the constitutionality of the city's ordinance.
Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer declined to comment on the City Council's Tuesday night vote to repeal the law.
City officials agreed in March 2010 to stop enforcing the law until the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a similar law in Redondo Beach. When the appellate justices ruled against the Redondo Beach law, Costa Mesa began the repeal process, according to Righeimer.
Thomas Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel, said the Ninth Circuit "decision in MALDEF's challenge to a nearly identical ordinance in Redondo Beach left the city of Costa Mesa with no choice but to repeal this unconstitutional ordinance. At long last, free speech is again protected for all in Costa Mesa."
In February 2010, then-Mayor Allan Mansoor, who is now an assemblyman, defended the ordinance and suggested it was inspired by residents' complaints about day laborers littering and engaging in "loud behavior."
– City News Service.