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Forum highlights immigrants' rights

Workers' rights group Tonantzin Collective organizes the event at Shalimar Park.

July 30, 2010|By Mona Shadia, mona.shadia@latimes.com
  • Residents of Shalimar street neighborhood gather for community forum to provide residents with information about SB-1070, the Arizona immigration law.
Residents of Shalimar street neighborhood gather for… (Don Leach, Daily…)

COSTA MESA — Carlota Lortez didn't know if police came knocking, she has the right to not allow them in unless they have a search warrant.

After living in the United States for 10 years, she first learned this Thursday during a community forum in Costa Mesa on immigrants' rights.

"I'm happy to know that," she said in Spanish translated by Benito Acosta, a resident who unsuccessfully sued Costa Mesa and Mayor Allan Mansoor after he was stopped from speaking during a council meeting a few years ago. "I have kids who were born here and if police came to my house, my kids will know through me that unless they have a search warrant, they can't come in."

The community forum organized at Shalimar Park by the Tonantzin Collective, a workers' rights group, came in response to Arizona's immigration law, SB 1070, which went into effect the same day as the forum, but with a lot less force after a federal judge put a hold on its most controversial elements.

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The forum also came in response to Costa Mesa's recent resolution declaring itself a "Rule of Law" city, one that does not welcome illegal immigrants within its city limits, Acosta said.

"A lot of people are scared," Acosta said. "They think it's like SB 1070, but it's not. (It) doesn't mean that police won't randomly be picking up people and verifying their status."

During the forum, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles' (CHIRLA) video "Know Your Rights," which showcases the rules for dealing with police, was shown to the 100 or so people who attended.

"Day Laborers in Struggle," a documentary about day laborers in Costa Mesa and Orange, was also shown.

When Costa Mesa closed its job center, a centralized area where day laborers once gathered, it created the problem it is dealing with right now, Acosta said.

Tonantzin Collective asked for six issues to be resolved. Among them is for Costa Mesa to revoke its solicitation ordinance, which bans anyone from actively soliciting employment on the street.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and two other civil rights organizations sued Costa Mesa in March over the resolution. As part of a court agreement, the city placed a moratorium on the resolution while a similar case involving the city of Redondo Beach gets finally resolved. The courts upheld the Redondo case, but it is being appealed.

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