It's been more than a year since Fairfax County Supervisor Michael Frey called a public meeting to discuss the proposal to open a hiring site for immigrant day laborers in Centreville.
"The atmosphere was obviously pretty heated," he says.
But Frey, a Republican, says most of the objections came from residents who had a problem with federal immigration policy. "The people that were objecting were objecting because they believed all the day laborers were here illegally, and wanted that problem solved," Frey says.
Frey understands those concerns. But he points out the county has little power to influence federal immigration enforcement, and the center is a way to keep immigrant workers who are looking for work from gathering on street corners and impeding commerce and traffic.
It will also keeping the workers themselves safer, Frey adds.
Alice Foltz is the temporary director of the Centreville Immigration Forum, a coalition of churchgoers that came up with the idea for the site and will run it when it opens.
She says discussion of the immigration issue has calmed in Centreville, and more people have gotten used to the idea that the Centreville Labor Resource Center, as it will be called, isn't trying to solve the country's immigration problems.
"The fact of the matter is, we have a community of folks here that are here, that have needs, and it's better for the entire community if we can provide for them so that they have better health and safety," she says.
Foltz says her group has raised $90,000 over the past twelve months, and only needs about $30,000 more to ensure the center can meet its budget needs for the first year.
The group has also begun hiring full-time staff and training about 40 volunteers.
She's keeping the exact address of the center a secret for now, until the owner of the shopping mall where it will be located can tell his other tenants, but she says the Centreville Labor Resource Center should open sometime in the early fall.