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Costa Mesa Merchants in Immigration Debate (ocregister.com)


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Another side to the tangled web of immigration reform. I'm glad the one issue I care 10x more than others has finally entered the national conscience. Is it racial profiling to enforce immigration laws?

It's going to be hard for businesses that sell goods/services to illegal immigrants stand by and lose their customers. Combine that power with businesses who don't want to lose their cheap labor and you've got a mighty powerful lobby.

I'm more ticked off at businesses than anyone in this debate. Everyone wants to throw up their hands and be blameless between the government, businesses, and the people themselves. I blame (in order) (1) our government for not enforcing the law, (2) businesses for taking full advantage of lax enforcement, and (3) illegal workers for doing what anyone else would do.

Some businesses plan to protest the city's stand on proposed changes in enforcement.



COSTA MESA – Every Thursday for the past few weeks, a group of hairdressers, auto mechanics and restaurant owners has quietly gathered to talk about lost dollars and customers. They say a move by Costa Mesa lawmakers to become the first city in the nation to allow local police to enforce federal immigration laws is to blame.

The group, which has swelled to 50 members, plans to take its meetings public this morning, to City Hall.

They say their customers - fearful of being questioned about their immigration status if they head for Costa Mesa shops - are spending their money in Santa Ana and Garden Grove. Some business owners report as much as a 40 percent drop in business after the City Council's vote to pursue the enforcement of immigration laws. Hispanics make up a third of Costa Mesa's population.


Following efforts by Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona, the city is seeking an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to train officers to investigate whether violent career felons are in the country illegally.


A handful of protesters angry about the city's stance has made demonstrations in front of Councilman Gary Monahan's restaurant, Skosh Monahan's, a weekly ritual. The protesters insist the policy is just a first step in racial profiling. Monahan voted for it.
Across town, members of the Minuteman Project, who oppose illegal immigration, have paced the sidewalks outside El Chinaco Mexican restaurant the last two Fridays. They waved signs accusing owner Mirna Burciaga, an El Salvador native, of being a racist for speaking against the policy.


Mayor Allan Mansoor, who is leading the push for the policy, argues it is aimed at the worst of the worst. The city will be safer for it, he said.


"Some of that fear is going to be pervasive," City Manager Allan Roeder said. "No matter how many groups you speak to and how many times you try to explain it, it is a very difficult one to dispel."
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