Living on with 'Rule'

For many here illegally, the 'Rule of Law' proclamation isn't on the forefront of their minds, but making ends meet is.

June 22, 2010|Tom Ragan,

Juan Garcia is an illegal immigrant from Mexico, but he doesn't concern himself with the Costa Mesa City Council's "Rule of Law" proclamation, which symbolically opposes people like him who live and work in the city.

He is not alone.

Nearly a dozen illegal immigrants from Mexico queried on the city's predominantly Latino West Side said they're too busy trying to make ends meet to fear deportation by the police or federal immigration agents. But that's not to say that their chances of being deported aren't in the back of their minds.

Although Garcia's been living in Costa Mesa for nearly two decades, he says he's got more to worry about — like paying the rent on his two-bedroom apartment on the West Side and supporting his wife and two children in a city where the cost of living is high — than the council's proclamation.


Of course, everything is relative, he pointed out on a recent afternoon during an interview in the doorway of the bar where he works. You should have seen where he grew up on the outskirts of Morelia in the state of Michoacán, where there was no running water or electricity, he said.

There's a reason why the entire cow is eaten from head to toe in most of Mexico, he added.

"Passing laws or resolutions or whatever you want to call them is nothing new here in Costa Mesa or California," said Garcia, a 40-something immigrant who was once a bookkeeper in Mexico before he illegally swam across the Rio Grande in 1995.

The problem, Garcia said, is that as diverse as the illegal immigrant population is, everybody has been lumped into one mass, which few, it would seem, try to understand.

"As a Mexican, we grin and bear it," he said in Spanish. "You kind of get used to all the hatred. But we're the first ones out there when … a house needs to be built or the yard needs to be cleaned up after a storm."

It's all about supply-and-demand economics, said the university-educated Garcia.

And as long as there are jobs in Southern California and the lure of opportunity in the United States, Garcia said illegal immigrants will keep crossing oceans of desert to get here.

Garcia's opinion on the illegal immigration issue is far from scandalous, given his background and circumstances.

But the opinions on the streets do vary in Costa Mesa, now that the council has taken a stance against them and also has an anti-solicitation ordinance that, detractors say, unfairly targets day-laborers.

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