As if on cue, a panga presumed to have carried undocumented immigrants (but no drugs this time) was found abandoned at Crystal Cove State Beach Thursday morning–providing yet more fodder for folks holding what they call "another planned National Anti-Immigration Protest" in Irvine Saturday afternoon.
Orange County's anti-immigration fever plays out while House Republicans fight amongst themselves over legislation Speaker John Boehner proposed to address the brewing immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border–legislation that was surprisingly supported by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach).
It's surprising because Rohrabacher is a harsh critic of House leadership and a hardliner when it comes to immigration policy. In June, he said Boehner should be ousted as speaker if he tried to ram through an immigration bill without a majority of Republicans behind it. And Rohrabacher wanted language in the bill chastising President Barack Obama's stance on DREAMers.
But the Washington Post reported Thursday that while Rohrabacher did not find the $659 million Boehner proposal perfect, the veteran OC lawmaker gave it a thumbs up that morning. Faced with certain defeat–virtually all Democrats opposed the legislation as did more than 20 House conservatives–Boehner pulled it from consideration by the same afternoon. (Note: The Post reporters removed the passage indicating Rohrabacher's support from later updates to the story.)
National Latino and Asian American and Pacific Islander groups, as well as labor and evangelical leaders, released a 2014 National Immigration Score Card earlier this week that gave goose eggs to Rohrabacher and every other member of Orange County's Republican congressional delegation. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) got a 91 percent score from the groups, while Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) scored a perfect 100 percent.
So, yeah, you probably won't see Sanchez or Lowenthal at the 405 freeway overpass at Yale and Michelson in Irvine from 2:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday for a demonstration by the same folks who held a "National Protest Against Amnesty And Border Surge" there on July 18-19.
"We have not stopped since Murrieta," explains coordinator Pam Hinkle, referencing the Riverside County city where national headlines were made when protesters got buses filled with undocumented women and children to turn around rather than continue to a local immigration processing facility.
The Irvine resident continued, "Nor do we plan to stop until our borders are being secured. Not only are the illegal border crossers coming by the thousands, they are not being properly processed either by security clearances or health screenings, putting the American public in danger from pandemics, crime and national suicide. While Obama fund-raises."
About 70 people turned out for July's protests, according to Hinkle, who expects at least 100 folks to show up Saturday. She attributed the increase in interest to news cameras that will supposedly being showing up.
"I would think that this is a newsworthy interest for Orange County, not only nationwide," she says.
Hinkle was unsure if counter-protesters will show up.
What has shown up in OC is 30-foot panga, by a passerby on a beach in Crystal Cove around 6 a.m. Thursday. That prompted the U.S. Coast Guard to launch a 45-foot Response boat and MH-65 helicopter to search for anyone who may be in distress. After 90 minutes of searching, no people or unusual boat traffic (or floaters, presumably) were found.
Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection officers, Orange County sheriff's deputies and Newport Beach cops and lifeguards found no one on the ground associated with the vessel, which also showed no signs of drug smuggling, according to the Coast Guard's Sean Haley.
A third party contractor was brought in to remove the panga and any residual fuel–'cause lord knows we don't need any more fuel poured on OC anti-immigration fire.