Thursday, February 7, 2019

Streets in Lake Worth, “[A]re clogged with illegals more than ever, and continue west on Lake Worth Road in front of various gas stations and Home Depot.”

The title of this blog post is from an article published in The Lake Worth Herald in January 2007.

And the Town of Jupiter had an “illegal immigrant problem” eleven years ago as well. 

First, some background:

The news published in the Herald in 2007 (see newspaper clipping below) and this blog post are about how two municipalities, the Town of Jupiter and the City of Lake Worth — two communities referred to in 2007 as having an “illegal immigrant problem” — and also two municipalities that went in two different directions in trying to solve the integration of undocumented immigrants into our communities.

Also below you’ll learn more about two centers that formed to help address aid to the undocumented populations: The El Sol Neighborhood Resource Center in Jupiter and later the Guatemalan-Maya Center (GMC) in Lake Worth. But are these two organizations “on the same page” so to speak?

For example, whereas El Sol focuses on “Community Partnerships” and English literacy, the mission of the GMC is a bit more complicated in that they continue to promulgate the false narrative about so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ here in Palm Beach County:

“[L]ocal governments throughout the United States have been supplying their own movements, such as offering sanctuary. . . . A sanctuary city is a response of the heart and it is a city that will not act as an instrument of federal enforcement.”

The so-called ‘sanctuary city’ is a complete myth in Palm Beach County and in all of Florida as well. Nothing of the sort even exists.

For too many years the Town of Jupiter and this City of Lake Worth have been falsely labeled a ‘sanctuary city’ to the detriment of both our communities. To this very day that ‘sanctuary’ myth continues such as in TV political ads to try and frighten people and to divide our communities. It may be a myth, but it’s still a myth that works in confusing those who don’t know any better.

Please Note: In the newspaper clipping below Andy Lukasik is cited as the “Jupiter Town Manager”. Remember, the news below is from eleven years ago. Lukasik was the town manager in Jupiter from 2004–2017. The town manager in Jupiter now is Matt Benoit who, “[J]oined the Town in February 2018”. This needs to be clearly noted so as to not create any confusion.

Now to the news in the Herald about when the
City of Lake Worth was, “[C]logged with illegals more than ever”:

Click on newspaper clipping to enlarge.

“Continued On Pg. 4”

The article continues as Lukasik. . .

[T]old the El Sol story to other municipalities in Palm Beach County and was recently invited to Lake Worth [in 2007].

I’ll talk about the town’s [Town of Jupiter] role in how the [El Sol] center got established and some of the players who made it possible,” Lukasik told The Lake Worth Herald.

The issue of illegal day laborers started heating up in Jupiter in 2005 as it did in Lake Worth.

Hispanics in Jupiter represented 7.30 percent of the population, according to the 2000 census. Jupiter had a population of 39,000.

Lake Worth’s Hispanic population, the largest in Palm Beach County, was reported in the [2010] census to be 29.70 percent of the city’s then 35,000 population.*

Town Ordinance

Jupiter tried to quell the problem by using various local tools, including an emphasis on code enforcement and public safety, according to Lukasik.

“The [El Sol] resource center was the focal point with everything else.

“The town was instrumental in putting the pieces of the puzzle together so it can work,” Lukasik said.

In September of last year [2006], the town passed a solicitation ordinance making in unlawful for anyone to seek employment on any public property or right-of-way, or to seek employment from any commercial parking area or common area of multi-family buildings.

The ordinance also makes in unlawful for any employer, while occupying any vehicle, to hire or attempt to hire anyone on any public property or right-of-way.

Following the passage of the ordinance, El Sol held an official opening.

While Catholic Charities is operating El Sol after receiving a grant, the future is not known.

“Catholic Charities of Palm Beach raced to secure a grant last year to take this on and cover all the staff and administrative expenses at the center for a least 12 months and up to 18 months,” Kelly Layman, spokeswoman for Catholic Charities said.

“The grant for $180,000 was secured from a national private foundation as an emergency request.

“It does not intend to continue long-term funding, so Catholic Charities and the town and the center’s partners will need to re-address funding after this summer to continue the center’s work,” Layman said.

Catholic Charities is a 23-year-old non-profit organization headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens.

Complaints about day laborers on the streets of Lake Worth, mainly downtown Lake Avenue, prompted a campaign by police [former LWPD] to issue citations to undocumented workers.

Lake Worth Mayor Rodney Romano attempted to find a designated place where day laborers could congregate.

Streets in Lake Worth today have become an employment zone and are clogged with illegals more than ever, and continue west on Lake Worth Road in front of various gas stations and Home Depot.

End of news article.

Hopefully the news article above will provide some helpful historical context. What the Town of Jupiter and the El Sol Neighborhood Resource Center have accomplished is truly remarkable:

From Twitter. . .

The big policy question here in the City of Lake Worth is what can be done to help forge a greater partnership with the Guatemalan-Maya Center and re-create the successes in the Town of Jupiter? And note there have been some great successes as well here in the City of Lake Worth, for example the Community Redevelopment Agency’s 3rd annual festival of Día de los Muertos — a historic cultural tradition from Central America — is fast becoming one of the most unique festivals in South Florida.

If you would like to contact the Guatemalan-Maya Center directly, to donate material or become a volunteer, the center is located at 430 North ‘G’ St. in Lake Worth. The phone number is 561-547-0085; or reach by email at:

And lastly, please remember there has never been in the history of Palm Beach County a so-called ‘sanctuary city’. But the City of Lake Worth prides itself in being referred to as a “Welcoming City”:

Lake Worth has long been recognized as a hospitable and welcoming place where people, families and institutions thrive and the contributions of all are celebrated and valued.

*City of Lake Worth population in 2020 projected to top 40,000. In July 2017 percentage estimate of “Hispanic or Latino” in the City of Lake Worth  =  38.9%.
Click on this link to learn more about immigration services at Catholic Charities of Palm Beach.
The former LWPD merged with PBSO in August 2008.