Orange County has not been the focus of most of the protests that have been taking place all over Southern California over the past week or so. Tomorrow that will change. Costa Mesa, where a fight with immigrants has been brewing for a while, will play host to the next large protest.
All week long, students have been walking out of classes, even forcing some school districts to shut down entirely. Yesterday I was at the Fontana City Hall for work and there was a protest involving several hundred students out in front of the building. While watching these protests I got the feeling that many of the students didn’t really know why they were there. They were “protesting nothing in particular, just protesting cause it’s Saturday and there’s nothing else to do,” as King Missile would say.
That is not to say they don’t have a reason to protest, but I don’t believe many of the students have a real understanding of what those reasons are. The protest I saw yesterday was more of a Mexican Pride rally than a political protest. This is turning into an us against them issue which it shouldn’t be. If this continues it wouldn’t surprise me if we would see the same thing here as France saw a few months ago. (If you want to read a good explanation of the difference between the most recent protests in Paris and the ones a few months ago in the Parisian suburbs check out this post on the Affordable Housing Institute blog.)
The reason Costa Mesa will be the site of the next large protest is that the city has agreed to use its police to enforce national immigration laws. This might not sound like a bad idea on the surface, they are laws and the police are there to enforce the laws. However, using the city’s police to enforce these laws means that illegal immigrants won’t call the police when they need to. Illegal immigrants will become the targets of crime since predators know they will not go to the police. This will lead to illegal immigrants finding other ways to protect themselves, which normally means more gangs. So while having local police enforce immigration laws might sound like a good idea, it will only lead to more crime and a worse neighborhood for the cities that adopt these practices.
While protests have been going on for a while against these policies in Costa Mesa, the protests against national immigration reform have brought more attention to the issue. If you would like to join in on the protests tomorrow, they will be at 10AM at the Costa Mesa City Hall (77 Fair Dr. and Fairview Ave.) That is, of course, if you aren’t already planning on going to the 8th Annual Cesar Chavez Walk in LA.