By Hairo Cortes, Chispa
The latest addition to a growing public backlash against President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and his concentration camps along the southern U.S. border came on Thursday with a march through Little Saigon organized by VietRISE, a Vietnamese American youth group. The demonstration follows a series of pro-immigrant actions and protests across Orange County, and the country, like the Lights for Liberty vigils.
But where Lights for Liberty had a certain feel good, liberal vibe–complete with renditions of John Lennon’s “Imagine” as well as serving as platforms for local Democratic electeds–VietRISE seized on the common refugee experiences of the Vietnamese community and Central Americans now arriving at the border to stand in solidarity and call out local Vietnamese leaders’ for their hypocrisy when it comes to immigration.
“As a community that has lived the refugee experience, that sought sanctuary in a new land, that suffered the violence of anti-immigrant racism, it is our responsibility to fight against this injustice today,” said Kacey Nguyen, long-time Westminster resident, in a VietRISE press release before the march. “The deaths of people, the migrant concentration camps, the horrid xenophobia coming from the President’s own mouth, we can no longer be silent – and neither can our elected officials.”
The demonstration brought together organizations like VietUnity Southern California, Viet Rainbow of Orange County (VROC), and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) together in common cause. Marchers didn’t just mention the failures of local leaders as a vague exercise in political rhetoric; they named names. Chief among them are Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do and Westminster Mayor Tri Ta, who, when presented with the chance to support of Orange County’s immigrant communities, chose to side with Trump during last year’s anti-Sanctuary State revolt.
Starting in Sid Goldstein Freedom Park in Westminster and heading down All-American Way toward Liberty Park, the march drew more than 100 people, from across Little Saigon and OC. At two points along the route, marchers took over intersections, walking in circles for a few minutes holding up traffic before proceeding. Now, take a deep breath. This is just a common tactic of disruption. And there’s a good reason for it.
As people arrived to Liberty Park, Tracy La, VietRISE’s Executive Director, made an observation about how most people go on about their days without thinking or dwelling on the miseries experienced by migrants at the border. When that’s the case, a minor inconvenience like having to sit in traffic because marchers are blocking the way can have a potent impact.