By John Earl
(March 7, 2006)
Reeling from pointed public comments and revealing testimony from police Chief John Hensley, Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor tried but failed to silence fellow City Council member Katrina Foley as she attacked his proposal to use police as immigration law eLooking upnforcers under the auspices of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau of the U.S. Department of Justice.
But unlike last January 3rd when the Mayor shut down the City Council chambers to silence immigrant rights advocate Coyotl Tezcalipoca, who was dragged off to jail, Foley held her ground.
Forewarned of trouble, the Minuteman Mayor made a preemptive strike by reciting his sacred oath of office, including the words “I will defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of California against all enemies foreign and domestic,” obviously alluding to Costa Mesa’s undocumented Mexican and Central American immigrants.
That soliloquy brought a tart reply from Foley: “I wish I had the Declaration of Independence to read here tonight, but I didn’t come prepared.”
The night’s fracas, one of an ongoing series to occur in the Costa Mesa City Council chambers since the January 3rd melee, occurred over Foley and Dixon’s inability to find evidence supporting the Mayor’s claim that having police enforce immigration law will make the city safer for its residents.
The Mayor’s usual allies, Eric Bever and Gary Monahan (Minutemen at heart if not by membership), showed none of the legendary courage of the Minuteman Project’s namesake. They sat silently as Foley and Dixon, helped by a reluctant Chief Hensley, sliced and diced the Mayor’s ICE into snippets of the embarrassing truth: that ICE will squander tax resources and endanger public safety by taking police away from their regular duties.
Under questioning, Hensley revealed that of the estimated 150 serious crimes (including one murder) committed each year in Costa Mesa (per five years), there is no data on how many are committed by non-citizens or illegal immigrants. But the Minuteman Junta’s ICE proposal would only duplicate services already provided by ICE agents at the Orange County Jail, where all inmates end up, even if there were a need for it.
In fact, as OCO previously reported, any law enforcement agency can inquire 24/7 about the legal status of any immigrant suspected of or held for a crime (Note: police are required by law to ask the citizenship of all booked suspects).
Under questioning by Foley, the Chief admitted that the supposed one time cost of $200,000 for tHensleyraining police officers in proper ICE procedures is not a one time cost. Due to normal officer rotation allowed in the city’s contract with the police union, up to that cost could be incurred each year just for training, indefinitely. Also, costs due to changing job descriptions could require re-negotiation of work contracts and hundreds of thousands of dollars more in costs–up to $1.5 million according to a previous estimate by city staff.
In addition to higher costs, the program will create layers of addition paper work that will draw police officers away from their normal duties for half a shift for each immigrant processed. “So, there’s basically not a whole lot more that ICE will provide us except taking our officers off the street protecting Costa Mesa residents?” Dixon asked Chief Hensley.
“If you believe that having local control is important enough to implement this policy, then that’s what we should do,” Hensley replied.
But the Chief added that once criminal suspects are routinely taken to either the county jail or the immigration detention center in Westminster the city loses any control over whether they are deported or reenter the country after being deported.
The great irony of the ICE proposal, which has been promoted as a law and order issue—“we are a nation of laws,” the Minuteman Mayor often says—was revealed when Foley asked Hensley if law enforcement favored using police officers to identify undocumented immigrants.
Foley: “When you were first consulted about this program you did not support it, isn’t that correct?”
Hensley: “That is true.”
Foley: “Are you aware of any chief of police in the county of Orange that supports participation in such a program?”
Hensley: “I am not.”
Foley: “How about any police chief in the United States?”
Hensley: “Well, I know there’s at least one because I got an email from him.”
Foley: “As far as your expertise, do you think this ICE training will actually help our officers prevent crime?”
Hensley: “I plead the Fifth. Your honor, you know, I don’t have any facts and that is what my business is about...”
When the Mayor got his turn he asked Hensley if it wasn’t true that the city needed its own ICE program in order to identify previously deported immigrants who returned to the country. The correct answer is “no,” because ICE already provides that service to any law enforcement agency that calls it on the phone. But Hensley, trying to be diplomatic in a tight spot, responded that he would have to first know details of the Sheriff’s ICE plan–information that is now unavailable—since it will be the model for Costa Mesa. “So I can’t give you a solid answer on that,” he answered.
“Fair enough,” the Mayor responded.
Out of thin air, the Minuteman Mayor then downplayed the need for the very program that he has depicted as an important crime fighting tool for the city. ICE will be “just an option,” he said, “not something we’re going to have to use every five minutes.” Now, the Mayor seemed to say, the city should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an option that it doesn’t really need, after all.
Desperately trying to revive justification for his melting ICE proposal, the Mayor once again became the patriot upholding is sacred oath of office.
“I think that instead of looking for reason not to enforce the law, we should be looking to uphold the oath that we took,” he opined in a tone of finality.
But the skirmish wasn’t over yet.
“Mr. Mayor,” Foley interjected with her disarmingly petite voice. “...I don’t think council member Dixon nor myself believe that anyone should get away with breaking the law. I think that what our position is that this is a federal immigration issue and that we would really like the Federal government to have some immigration reform that actually makes sense for our country.”
“You prepared a letter [to President Bush] bu didn’t give a report for it,” interrupted the Minuteman Mayor.
Foley: “Excuse me—and that would also protect and secure the borders so that we couldzeig heil02 actually function with local law enforcement”—
Minuteman Mayor (speaking to a member of the audience who stood to give Hensley a Nazi salute): “If the members of the audience could sit down please. Thank you.”
Man who gave the Nazi salute: “You’re welcome.”
Foley (continuing her sentence): “...to use their time efficiently to deal with robberies, burglaries, prevention of car accidents, things of that nature that would actually benefit...our residents. Because I don’t believe, based on the communication that I have received tonight from the Chief, the communication that I have received from talks with other law enforcement...that this is actually going to prevent any crime in our community. And–“
BeverAnd then the Minuteman Mayor, a strong believer in a “nation of laws,” violated city code as he tried to shut Foley up in the middle of her sentence. “I am going to make a motion to receive and file Item Number One.”
Foley: “Excuse me, Mr. Mayor, I would”–
Mayor: “Call for a second.”
Foley: “...respectfully request the I be allowed to finish my comments. This is a pattern that you have of interrupting people and preventing them from finishing their statements.”
The obvious reference to the treatment of Tezcalipoca, which has resulted in a civil rights lawsuit against the city, brought down the house with hoots and laughter.
“You bring it on yourself,” Foley said, looking directly at the Minuteman Mayor.
Befuddled, the Minuteman Mayor sat silently as Foley finished by praising Hensley’s Stoicism and requesting that “we be allowed to continue to conduct our city business in a way where this is not such a distraction.”
“It’s a motion and a second,” the Minuteman Mayor continued, obliviously. “Call the question.”
For a summary of the Cold Hard Facts About Costa Mesa’s ICE Program, click this sentence with your mouse.
To access related links and view more photos and video, please go to http://www.ocorganizer.com/html/minuteman_mayor.html
For a summary of the cold hard facts about Costa Mesa's ICE proposal, go to http://www.ocorganizer.com/html/ice_cold_facts.html
Costa Mesa's Minuteman Mayor, Allan Monsoor, like to prevent people from speaking out against his ICE proposal at Council meetings, but he couldn't stop Katrina Foley.