By Abigail Marin
Local Know Nothing candidates running on a pro-Trump, anti-immigrant political agenda continue to place Orange County on edge by welcoming notorious xenophobes into the fold. On Friday, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio made an appearance at the Yorba Linda Community Center at the invitation of Phil Liberatore, a no chance in hell candidate for the 39th congressional district seat.
Arpaio rose to the national spotlight for illegally detaining Latinos and keeping inmates in brutal “Tent City” conditions during his 24-year tenure as sheriff in Arizona. Three inmates died after being forced into “restraint chairs” in Arpaio’s jails. Inmates were also forced to wear pink underwear, eat only two meals a day, and endure blazing desert heat during the summer. Arpaio’s tactics led to a criminal conviction after he violated a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos, one President Trump controversially pardoned him for.
Liberatore’s invitation came on the heels of Yorba Linda city council actively supporting the federal government’s lawsuit against California’s “sanctuary state” laws. The strongly conservative city’s reputation is of having a hostile attitude towards immigrants, the LGBT community and people of color. On Friday, Arpaio and his supporters were provided protection by sheriff deputy yellow tape, which drew a line between those who spew hate, and those who seek sanctuary for all.
But Arpaio’s appearance was met with bigger and stronger opposition from organizations all across the county. Yorba Linda United, Refuse Fascism Orange County, Resilience Orange County, and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, all showed up to roll out the unwelcome mat for Arpaio. In a newly emerging OC, the protesters significantly outnumbered Arpaio’s supporters in Yorba Linda–yes, Yorba Linda! And there even was an inflatable Rooster Trump to keep things fun.
“We as a community want to let council members know that convicted Sheriff Arpaio is a horrible symbol of hate,” said Natalie Estrada, lead organizer of No Hate Yorba Linda. Debbie Langerbacher, a long time activist also had a message for Yorba Linda leadership. “I want to make it clear to the leadership of Yorba Linda to stop using city-funded facilities to host convicted felons that seeks to divide our community and any others,” she said.
As Yorba Linda council members work with the anti-immigrant hate group, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), who attempt to push an agenda that incites hatred of the immigrant community, we move forward with resistance to obliterate white patriarchy, injudicious political agendas, and hate-driven tactics. Arpaio’s visit to Yorba Linda isn’t just a battle to protect sanctuary laws or to fight against scapegoating the Latinx community. This affects the immigrant community at large.
In light of all the threats our communities are facing, we have an opportunity to spread awareness and protect the dignity of all those that reside in the new OC.