Ex-mayor Allan Mansoor, known for tough stance on illegal immigration, is now targeting motels as he eyes return to Costa Mesa council
Though none of this year’s candidates for Costa Mesa City Council is new to the ballot, one name might stand out for some voters: Allan Mansoor.
The former Orange County sheriff’s deputy was a member of the California Assembly from 2010 to 2014 and ran unsuccessfully for the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2014.
But he made his political name as a Costa Mesa council member from 2002 to 2010, when he attracted widespread criticism, praise and media attention as he pushed to crack down on illegal immigrants working and living in Costa Mesa.
As mayor in 2010, Mansoor led a council action to declare Costa Mesa a “rule of law city when it comes to support for upholding immigration laws,” as he put it.
He was named an honorary “Minuteman” by members of the Minuteman Project, a group that opposes illegal immigration.
Now, in a year when Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has turned his proposal to build a wall at the U.S. border with Mexico into a rallying cry, the issue of immigration has again taken a prominent, and controversial, place in politics.
Mansoor said in an interview Friday that he views the immigration issue through the lens of public safety.
While on the council, he pushed the city to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to check the immigration status of crime suspects. An ICE agent was stationed at the city jail for that purpose. Many undocumented suspects were turned over to ICE.
“We removed 1,300 criminals from our community because of that effort,” Mansoor said Friday. “It was a wide range of criminals — burglars, robbers, drug offenders, sex offenders, the whole nine yards. Those are serious crimes, and the community was safer because of it.”
The ICE agent left the jail in 2010 after the federal agency adopted Secure Communities, a national program that used fingerprints to check immigration status. That effort was later replaced by the Department of Homeland Security’s Priority Enforcement Program.
Mansoor states on his campaign website that he’s amazed “that our federal government has yet to take a common-sense approach of cooperation with local law enforcement. Instead, political correctness prevails and these dangers are ignored.”
According to his website, as a deputy he “saw many people who were here illegally committing additional serious crimes and that they were being released back into our community after serving their time.”
“Do you think a burglar or a robber who is here illegally should remain in our country? What about the person who killed Kate Steinle?” Mansoor said during the interview, referring to a woman who was shot and killed in San Francisco last year, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant.
“It’s so out of control,” Mansoor said. “Do I want that to happen in my community? Absolutely not.”
When asked whether he still considers illegal immigration to be a prime public safety issue for Costa Mesa, he said he thinks the best way to reduce crime in the city now “is to repurpose the motels and some of the downtrodden properties” and work to revitalize those areas.
Perspectives on Mansoor’s decision to run for the council again were split among people who attended Thursday night’s Feet to the Fire candidates forum at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.
Costa Mesa resident Janet Krochman said people shouldn’t evaluate Mansoor solely on his positions on illegal immigration.
“It seems to be a flashpoint for certain people, and whenever you’ve got a flashpoint that gets news, you just keep digging that up,” she said. “If everyone in history only had one event that they were known for, we’d have some awful boring history books.
“I think Allan has a lot more going for him than that one flashpoint many years ago,” she added.
Westside resident Joel Schechter said he hopes to see Mansoor “go down in defeat” in the Nov. 8 election.
“I think there are a lot of people who have a lot of disdain for Allan Mansoor,” Schechter said.
Mansoor is one of seven candidates running for three available spots on the five-member City Council.
The field also includes Mesa Verde residents Jay Humphrey and John Stephens, Eastside resident Lee Ramos, State Streets resident Al Melone and Mayor Steve Mensinger and Councilwoman Sandy Genis, who are running for reelection. Councilman Gary Monahan is termed out.
Luke Money, email@example.com