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Small business interests attack Costa Mesa Mayor

by Recall Mansoor Friday, Mar. 24, 2006 at 6:09 PM

“What we have here is something that is nothing more than grandstanding and symbolism and it is symbolically scaring people,” said Blank. “What we need is a national immigration policy. We don't need a cowboy sitting in the mayor's seat in Costa Mesa saying, 'I'm going to round them all up and send them away.'”

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20060323-1548-wst-immigrationpolice.html

Businesses: Orange County city's immigration policy

too costly



By Gillian Flaccus

ASSOCIATED PRESS

3:48 p.m. March 23, 2006

COSTA MESA – Business owners in this upscale Orange

County city gathered Thursday to voice their

opposition to a new city policy that would give police

the authority to enforce federal immigration law.

The policy, which was narrowly approved by the City

Council late last year, allies Costa Mesa police with

the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau.

It would make Costa Mesa the first city in the nation

to train its police force in federal immigration

enforcement.

Police would only be able to check the immigration

status of violent career felons. And it probably will

not take effect for at least several months as local

and federal official hammer out the details.

Business owners, however, said the fear and

uncertainty in the immigrant community had caused

losses of up to 35 percent for those who cater to

Hispanic customers and has provoked protests outside

businesses around town.

Vincente Barajas, owner of a bakery called La Espiga

de Oro, said his business had declined 20 percent

since the council vote. He said another of his

bakeries, in nearby Fullerton, had not seen a similar

decline.

“People think that just because of the way they look,

you're going to get picked up by the police and taken

to jail,” he said. “Even people from out of the city

are afraid to come in and support us.”

A diverse group of nearly 50 business owners gathered

in front of City Hall and said they would actively

work against Mayor Allan Mansoor's re-election in

November. The policy was misguided and had been

“thrust upon” the city by Mansoor, whose goal is to

“clean up the Westside,” said Chris Blank, an attorney

who was present as a small-business owner.

Hispanic immigrants live throughout the city, but are

concentrated in neighborhoods to the west. Most of the

business owners involved in the protest operate there.

“What we have here is something that is nothing more

than grandstanding and symbolism and it is

symbolically scaring people,” said Blank. “What we

need is a national immigration policy. We don't need a

cowboy sitting in the mayor's seat in Costa Mesa

saying, 'I'm going to round them all up and send them

away.'”

The Chamber of Commerce also opposes the policy, said

Ed Fawcett, the chamber's president.

Mansoor didn't return calls from The Associated Press.

In the past, he has said the policy targets only the

worst criminals and will make the city safer. The

policy is designed to piggyback on a similar policy

being pursued by the Orange County Sheriff's

Department.

Police Capt. Ron Smith said Thursday that his

department has tried to remain neutral in the

controversy and had no choice but to follow the City

Council's lead. He said about 30 out of 163 officers

would receive the federal immigration training when

the policy goes into effect.

Smith said he believed immigrants' fear came about

because Mansoor had originally proposed a much broader

policy that would have allowed police to check the

immigration status of those arrested for less than an

aggravated felony.

“Now nobody understands what's going on. What I'm

trying to do is put the facts out there,” he said. “My

officers tell me ... there is tangible fear here.”

Some residents said they supported Mansoor's stance.

Ed Franks, a retiree who owned a sporting goods stores

in Costa Mesa, said he has watched the number of

Hispanic residents in Orange County increase

dramatically in his 45 years there. He said he favored

removing immigrants who were breaking the law.

“They're breaking the law, period. I don't know what

to tell you; it's black and white,” he said. “What's

irritating to me is that everybody keeps pointing to

the United State of America. Nobody goes to Mexico and

says, 'What are you doing about this?'”

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