particularly its Westside, where a 1997 survey shows 44% of the residents
President Bush is urging the Senate to act quickly to pass the
legislation, saying it would demonstrate America's compassion.
The proposed measure would allow thousands of people who either
entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas to remain in the
country while completing the necessary paperwork for legal residency.
Applicants would be fined $1,000 but would not be forced to return to
their homelands to file and face a potential 10-year wait to return, as
existing law mandates.
A long, heated debate
Some residents argue the city is overrun by illegal immigrants who
contribute to higher crime rates and lower student test scores. Others
say immigrants perform a vital function in society by doing menial jobs
others refuse to do. The debate is heated and fueled by years of changing
City officials have maintained that there are no published or accurate
statistics on the number of undocumented workers living within Costa
Mesa. It is unlikely to have documentation on undocumented workers, City
Manager Allan Roeder has said.
Despite the lack of official numbers, the effects of illegal
immigration are apparent in the city.
Yardel Duran, who was looking for work near the Costa Mesa Job Center
last week, admitted he was living in the city illegally. He defended his
position as one of mere survival and refuted the notion that he is a
societal plague, adding that he pays rent and sales tax.
"At least I'm out here working for a living instead of selling drugs
or robbing people," he said.
If given the chance to become a legal citizen, he would, he said, but
not for $1,000.
"It's too much money," Duran said in Spanish. "If I had $1,000 in my
pocket, I wouldn't be out here looking for work."
Aaron Estrado, who presented documentation of residency, said living
here legally is not an incentive in itself.
"I did things the way they wanted me to, and what do I get? Taxed.
Papers equal taxes. That's just the way it goes," Estrado said.
His legal status affords him comfort from possible deportation, but he