Today’s news:

A Shortage of Compassion

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer deserves credit for his effort to broker an accord between neighbors who live near the Hart Playground in Woodside and the nuns from St. John’s Bread and Life who feed the day laborers who gather outside the park. The neighbors met with the people who run the soup kitchen last week.

Once again, the neighbors raised their concern that the illegal immigrant men who wait outside the park each day to be picked up by local landscapers and contractors include convicted sex offenders. One of the neighbors, Ken Cullen, warned that between five and 10 men that he, as a social worker, had assessed as sex offenders were among the day laborers.

If these people he has assessed as sex offenders and can identify are on the Sex Offender Registration list, then they are not allowed anywhere near a school or playground for any purpose. He should report them immediately. In addition, if these sex offenders are illegal immigrants, they should be reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In recent years ICE has targeted immigrants convicted of sexual crimes for deportation.

Outside of that we would hope the community would show compassion to the young men who have fled from the most miserable and impoverished conditions in their home countries to earn money in our country. We are impressed by any man willing to stand for hours each morning in the hope of getting picked up to do a day’s work. We have been told these men send most of what they make back to their families.

A neighbor suggested feeding the workers in the basement of a church. But we doubt any of these men would give up the chance to get hired to get a free meal. Another person suggested making 69th Street a one-way northbound thoroughfare, which would kill the location for day laborers. That, in turn, would make it harder for these men to feed their children.

We continue to be impressed by the generosity and patience of the people who give their time to feed the poor. They are doing God’s work and should be praised.

Now Van Bramer must take a side in support of those who feed the hungry and those who wait for long hours each day to feed their families.

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