"Born In East L.A." - A New Reality
Back in 1987 many of us laughed at the plight of Cheech Marin's character, Rudy, in the movie "Born In East L.A." Rudy, a Latino American citizen, was picked up by an INS raid and, since he didn't have his identification on him and no one could contact his mother because she was on a trip to Fresno, Rudy was deported to Mexico with other factory workers. The movie follows his travails as he tries to make his way back. It was actually very funny - then.
Today in Costa Mesa that scenario is very likely to play out in real life. I can see the very real possibility of legal residents being swept up by overly-aggressive police officers and being mishandled at the jail, resulting in deportation.
Based on the report from the first month of activity by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent assigned to the Costa Mesa jail, half of the people detained and processed for deportation are those apprehended for misdemeanors. This is in direct conflict with Mayor Mansoor's often repeated assurance that he wasn't interested in sweeps, only in getting dangerous felons, repeat offenders, off our streets so they couldn't prey on our residents. So, even though he didn't get his original wish for all Costa Mesa patrol officers to be certified as immigration screeners, the effect will be the same. If this continues to play out the way it appears it might, soon the brave men and women of the CMPD will find themselves snatching up every person of brown skin who commits even the most minor of offenses - jaywalking, parking violations or lingering near a convenience store after buying a refreshment following a hard day at work. Instead of chasing those dangerous felons the mayor is so concerned about - a job they do very well, by the way - the CMPD will become de facto immigration agents.
This is just another example of the mayor's curiously tentative relationship with the truth. Of course, to those of us who watched him obfuscate his way back into office this past fall, it comes as no surprise. Beneath his cherubic countenance there lies a darker side.
Now, before you go all apoplectic on me, let me state one more time that I do not support illegal immigration. See, that was a simple, declarative statement - unambiguous and easy to understand, right? I fully understand the impact of illegal immigrants on our country. I understand the burden they place on our social services and education system. I understand that, instead of spending that money they work so hard to earn, they send a large portion of it "home" in the form of remittances. Those remittances sent to Mexico, last estimated at more than $15 billion annually, represent the second greatest form of income for that country - oil revenues are number one.
I also understand that it is simply not practical to yank every illegal immigrant currently working in this country from the labor force and deport them back to their country of origin. Extracting those 12-30 million workers from the workforce would cripple our economy. Yes, I've heard the bogus argument that those workers are taking jobs from "real Americans". That's a load of bull! When is the last time you saw a bunch of white people - "real Americans" - picketing a field for the backbreaking work of harvesting strawberries or any other crop? Not in the last 20 years, at least. When did you last see "real Americans" picketing hotels or restaurants for jobs as maids, custodians, dishwashers or cooks? Give me a break!
As I've said many times before, real illegal immigration reform must start with secure borders. Until they are secure, all those people the ICE man at the Costa Mesa jail identifies as illegal and processes for deportation will soon be back, probably working in their old jobs. Fix the border first, then let's discuss the solution to the question of those already here. Maybe a form of amnesty will work. I'd support that only if the borders are secure to block further illegal immigration. Perhaps we should consider a program of guest workers similar to the bracero program that was in place when I was growing up. It worked well for it's duration.
Our mayor and his cronies are looking for simple solutions to complicated problems. If simple solutions were workable someone would have implemented them long ago. There are not simple solutions to these issues. For example, no one has addressed what happens to the American citizen children of illegal immigrant parents who might be deported. What's the mayor's solution to the plight of those citizens? Will he propose revoking their citizenship? That wouldn't surprise me at all.
Another related question for our "tough on criminals" mayor... how does he feel about the 57 white supremacists rounded up a few weeks ago - 20 of which were picked up in Costa Mesa at 17 different sites? To date, we have heard nothing at all from our mayor on the subject. Since he, and his buddy who runs the CM Press, are so vocal about the illegal immigrant criminals among us, it strikes me as curious that both of them have been completely mute on those raids. It is not illogical to assume that, since they've said nothing about an issue that really cries out for comment, they might be sympathetic to those folks. As the old saying goes, their silence speaks volumes.
And, before I forget, I want to wish my old pal at the CM Press a very happy Martin Luther King Day.