Today the offenders have melted into a new, unhappy life. "They threw us out," explains one fast-talking man who declined to give his name. "Where in the hell was I going to find someplace to stay in one week knowing our status? We ended up running to any place we could find, and it was here."
"Don't we have the right to make ourselves better?" another asks. "How can we do that if every time we try, they close the door on us?"
Around midnight on a recent Tuesday, the men settle on the concrete of the parking lot to sleep and don't rustle again until 5:45 the next morning. In the darkness before dawn, a dozen offenders wearily yet hurriedly take down their tents. They say the manager of the nearby warehouse threatened to kick them off his property if they made a mess, and no one wants to endure another move.
A frazzle-haired man gargles some water, takes a swig of cafecito, and schleps his tent back into the bushes before climbing into the bed of a white pickup.
At the strike of 6, offenders take off on bike and foot while watching the white Ford pull away, taillights dissolving into the pale morning light.