In addition to being interim executive director of OCCORD, Ada Briceno is also secretary-treasurer of UNITE-HERE Local 11, which represents workers at the Disney properties, the Anaheim Hilton and Aramark food service employees.
Following last week’s Anaheim City Council vote approving the district map and sequencing sought by the UNITE-HERE/OCCORD-led political coalition, Briceno exhorted her supporters, “In November, we are going to turn this city council.”
Briceno’s meaning is plain: the next step is electing council candidates who share her coalition’s political philosophy and priorities, and who will enact policies reflecting such. Consequently, it is fair and necessary to examine the politics of this coalition. The issues OCCORD and UNITE-HERE deem important and fight for tells us a lot about the kinds of policies their council candidates – if elected – would pursue.
Let’s take this for example:English and Spanish.]
ICE is Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As the name suggests, it is the federal agency charged with enforcing the nation’s immigration laws; that includes the deporting those who are in the country in violation of the law. However, according to the political philosophy of UNITE-HERE, enforcing the law is denigrated as “targeting” Central American immigrants. Indeed, UNITE-HERE encourages “reporting” enforcement actions as if they were hate crimes or infectious disease outbreaks.
This refusal to distinguish between legal and illegal immigration is important, because it is reflective of the radical nature of UNITE-HERE politics.
Reasonable people can disagree on immigration reform. I have always believed, and continue to believe, that immigration is good for this country. I support strict border enforcement combined with a generous guest worker program to permit the free cross-border flow of labor; the latter is a critical component to reducing illegal border crossings. I support an arduous path to legal residency for illegal immigrants; I generally oppose the deportation of children who were brought here illegally by the parents but are for all intents purposes Americans. While those positions put me at odds with many other Republicans and conservatives, we share the belief in a nation’s right to control its borders and the distinction between legal and illegal immigration is a matter of the law and must be respected.
Not so with UNITE-HERE and its allies, who effectively dismiss the legitimate distinction between legal and illegal immigration. They march in favor of immediate citizenship for illegal immigrants and work against any cooperation between local government and ICE. The enforcement of immigration law – at least, when it concerns immigrants from Mexico and Central America — is seen as illegitimate, inhumane and racist. This is the difference between wanting to reform existing law and supporting the violation of the law.
It’s been several years since an ICE agent was stationed in the Anaheim jail to take custody of criminal illegal immigrants. According to the Anaheim Police Department, it does not enforce immigration violations absent a warrant of arrest signed by a Judge, and does not honor immigration detainers absent an arrest warrant. Anaheim’s policy changed in 2014 after the state Attorney General advised there was potential civil liability for doing so without the presence of an actual arrest warrant.
That’s a prudential decision. However, given the ideology of the UNITE-HERE/OCCORD coalition, it isn’t difficult to envision in the near future calls for more symbolic actions like declaring Anaheim a “sanctuary city” in the near future, and more concrete actions like shifting the APD from neutrality to active non-cooperation with immigration law enforcement. And this is only one example of this coalition’s radical politics.