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Town to appeal halt to its enforcement of day laborer law

Oyster Bay officials say they will appeal an order by a federal judge stopping the town from enforcing an ordinance targeting day laborers.

U.S. District Judge Denis R. Hurley issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday that extends a May 20 ruling that the town's ordinance, which bans any behavior on city streets that announces someone is available to work, was too broad and violated free speech protections.

He issued a temporary restraining order May 20 that was set to expire May 28, when a hearing was scheduled on a preliminary injunction.

But Oyster Bay officials already had decided to test the ordinance in higher courts. Attorneys for the town asked Hurley to cancel the May 28 hearing and issue the injunction.

Hurley's Tuesday ruling clears the way for Oyster Bay to file for an appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

"It would be fruitless to go before him, because he's clearly decided a number of issues as a matter of law, and there's no way to overcome that," Town Supervisor John Venditto said of Hurley.

Oyster Bay passed the ordinance in September in response to complaints in Locust Valley about day laborers, who are predominantly Latino.

Earlier this month, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of Centro de la Comunidad Hispana de Locust Valley, a Latino advocacy group, and the Workplace Project, a Hempstead-based nonprofit.

Oyster Bay plans to base its appeal on two grounds, Venditto said. The town will argue that the speech of day laborers looking for work leads to violations of immigration and employment law, making it ineligible for First Amendment protections. The town also says the ordinance falls within its rights to regulate public safety on town streets, Venditto said.

Samantha Fredrickson, NYCLU's Nassau chapter director, did not comment on the town's specific claims. "We're pretty confident that the law is on our side," Fredrickson said.

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