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Hiring Centers for Illegal Immigrants Spark Tension in California Communities

Illegal immigration is a problem that has divided Americans. While Congress and the White House struggle with the issue of immigration reform, local communities across the nation must deal with the reality of illegal aliens who are willing to take many jobs not filled by Americans.

The city of Burbank, California recently required a large home building supply store to set up an adjacent hiring center where residents could find people to fill these jobs.

Just outside a Home Depot store, day workers are waiting to be hired. It's a good bet the majority are in the United States illegally, and that most are from Mexico. The Center for Immigration Studies says the average worker in Mexico makes one-tenth of what is earned by his American counterpart. So there is a strong incentive to cross the border for better paying jobs, even when some of those jobs are just for the day.

It is a sensitive issue for those who want to hire these illegal immigrants. One man we spoke with did not want to appear on camera:

"I do not think it takes away too many jobs from legal residents, but it may ... and it may be encouraging (illegal) immigration only because they know they can find work," he said.

Providing hiring centers for day workers seems to be an emerging national trend. From southern California to Herndon, Virginia ... it is a buyer's market that is dividing neighbors and workers:

"Every day we are here -- more than 200 people at the most,” said Alex Hernandez, a laborer. “Forty people get jobs."

"...If the people availing themselves of government services are primarily illegal aliens, I think that's a problem," said a nearby resident.

Those opposed to the idea of providing a hiring center say it's one more way of encouraging illegal immigration.

"I don't think the town has any business encouraging people to come in,” said Maryann Cerick, a Herndon resident. “It's bringing disease, it's bringing a bad name to the town of Herndon."

But local officials in Virginia and California say they have no other choice. They say as long as there is a need for workers, the day laborers won't go away, and the hiring centers provide a clean, safe place for them to meet a potential employer.