Forty-one-year-old Mayor Alan Mansoor has seen the Latino population of Costa Mesa grow from 10 percent to almost 40 percent in his lifetime.
"I respect when people want to come here, but I believe they should come here legally," Mansoor told CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker.
This son of immigrants pushed a controversial proposal through city council to train police to perform the duties of U.S. immigration agents — to help nab and deport criminals here illegally. It is the first city to take such a step.
"I want to make sure that if someone is involved in a major crime — gang-related, drug-related, weapons charges, whatever — that that person is deported and I think the American public expects that," Mansoor said.
It's put Costa Mesa on the front line of the heated immigration debate and made the mayor's seat a hot seat.
"This is not about gang violence," one citizen shouted at Mansoor. "This is about you being a racist pig."
"It's unfortunate that they resort to name calling," Mansoor responds. "I'm not going to sit idly and do nothing when we should be enforcing the law."
It's opened a deep fault line. Opponents predict more crime.
"Because people will be afraid that they are going to be deported if they report a crime," Councilmember Katrina Foley said.
But the mayor has new friends. The Minutemen — patriots to some, vigilantes to others — who now patrol portions of the border with Mexico, made him an honorary member.
"Now a mayor in Massachusetts will probably do the same thing," Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist told CBS News. "A mayor in Idaho will get their local law enforcement to uphold the rule of law since our federal government has literally failed us in this issue."
Costa Mesa once rolled out the welcome mat. Now, the first Orange County city to open a day laborer jobs center was the first to shut it down. Latino residents are organizing.
"Residents here in Costa Mesa see a changing complexion, a racial complexion, and they feel out of place," said Nativo Lopez, a community organizer. "It's fear, fear of change, fear of the unknown."
One thing is certain. Costa Mesa is changing in ways both sides find threatening.