Southern California’s immigration reform movement has been centered largely in Los Angeles, but this week a Brea shopping center has become a hub of protest.
Pro-immigration reform advocates from Orange and Los Angeles counties are fasting outside an Ann Taylor Loft and camping overnight in tents. Organizers of the fast say Orange County has less of a political culture, and immigration reform could use the extra attention there.
“I think LA has been a more immigrant-heavy city for a longer time,” said Dayne Lee of the LA-based Korean Resource Center, whose members are fasting, along with labor and church groups. “Orange County- these demographic changes are a little bit newer.”
Orange County is estimated to have nearly 300,000 residents who entered the US illegally. More than 1,000 of those residents are Koreans, Lee said – and those are just the ones who’ve had contact with his organization.
“They don’t talk about it at school,” Lee said. “They don’t talk about it at church, and there’s no political forum there where they can express these thoughts. So that’s why we’re trying to force the conversation.”
Activists, who are taking part in a national fasting event, are also trying to pressure Orange County Republican Congress members into taking stronger stands for immigration reform – in particular, Reps. John Campbell, R-Irvine and Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, whose Orange County office sits in the same Brea shopping center where activists have gathered to protest before.
Royce, who is in DC, issued this statement Monday in responses to the fast.
“There is no question that we must fix our broken immigration system. That means implementing faster documentation processes and workable employer verification as well as effectively securing our border. Only then can we talk about a pathway to an earned legal status for adults. However, I also believe that we should not punish children who did not choose to be brought here for their parents’ decision to illegally cross the border.”
This falls short of the activists’ demands of the congressman. They are calling on him to sign a pledge card to advance immigration reform.