OC Immigrant Rights Activists Joined SF Rally Supporting Sanctuary Laws

A banner day in the bay! Photo by Sandra De Anda

By Sandra De Anda, Orange County Immigrant Youth United

Activists and organizers got on a bus Tuesday night in Anaheim for an hours-long trek to San Francisco. That’s where a rally took place the following morning outside the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals against President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on legal protections for immigrants. The rally, put on by the ICE out California Coalition and the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, drew dozens of activists and organizers from all over the state.

The OC contingent proved to be one of the biggest with Korean Resource Center (KRC), Resilience OC, Orange County Immigrant Youth United, VietRISE, and United Domestic Workers (UDW), AFSCME 3930 all present to represent!

Many felt compelled to attend the rally because three pro-immigrant laws in the state are being legally challenged by the Trump Administration at the federal courthouse. California’s “Sanctuary State” law, SB 54, limits local police cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s painful deportation machine. AB 103 challenges the indignity of detention, tasking the state Attorney General with monitoring immigration jails. Last, but not least, AB 450, is the Immigrant Worker Protection Act.

News reports hinted that the appellate court didn’t appear inclined to block SB 54 at the Trump Administration’s request, but judges did express concerns about AB 103.

OC boasts a sizable foreign-born population, and we showed up to the rally to make our voices heard. One of the local voices that spoke about the ongoing immigrant struggle was Alice Lee, a KRC organizer. She talked about the year-long struggle to combat the anti-Sanctuary State revolt that spread to many local city governments in OC and even the county board of supervisors, too.

Many other activists who are leaders in the immigrant rights movement elsewhere made moving speeches including Borey Ai, a San Francisco-based Cambodian refugee recently released from prison after serving his time. Ai rejoined his family back in Stockton and become the face of the Cambodian anti-deportation movement in the Bay Area. He spoke about how he rehabilitated himself in prison and now fights for those in the Cambodian community who are in similar straits. He looked down at his ankle bracelet and mentioned how he is physically not free because he “could be deported any second.”

Florice Ramos followed Ai. She spoke of being held in detention for a year at Mesa Verde Detention Facility in Bakersfield and about what post-detention life looks like. Ramos, an indigenous Huichol and a Mexican citizen, got detained in front of her children, even though she has lived in California for three decades. “Stop the raids, stop the deportations, and close all immigrant detention centers,” she told the crowd. Ramos looked down at her ankle bracelet as well, saying how painful it was to have it knowing her every move and that made it so her friends would be afraid to hang out with her and visit her because they, too, are afraid of detention or deportation.

Through all the hardships expressed at the rally, many of us danced the morning away and spoke to one another about what brought us here and what we can do together to continue the fight for immigrant rights.

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