A New Era Of Protest For Santa Ana’s Youth

R. Nicanor Santana / el Don

In resistance to the election of President Donald J. Trump and his conservative policies, Santa Ana’s youth are finding their voices by marching, protesting and using their Constitutional rights to create change at the local level.

Today on International Workers’ Day, a march will be held in support of immigrant and workers’ rights. Santa Ana’s event is one of many planned throughout the United States and the world.

Since Trump’s victory, citizens have taken to the streets and city council meetings in defense of their views and causes. Santa Ana attracts groups that feel threatened by the president’s policies.

The Orange County Women’s March on Jan. 21 crammed 20,000 people in the streets of Downtown Santa Ana, making it the largest march in O.C. history.

Protestors marched on Bristol Street Feb. 16 while businesses across the city closed their doors in solidarity with A Day Without Immigrants. On International Women’s Day, March 8, people wore red and women refrained from work.

“Everything is on the line; our hopes, our lives,” protestor Maria Baruxis said at the O.C. Women’s March.

Demonstrators at the O.C. Women’s March in January. / R. Nicanor Santana / el Don

Protestors rally at the Orange County Women’s March on Jan 21 in Downtown Santa Ana in defense of Planned Parenthood. / R. Nicanor Santana / el DonSince taking office, the president has signed executive orders giving states the choice to defund women’s health services and expanding the power of immigration officers, in addition to appointing a conservative justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. His proposed 2018 budget would cut funding for public education, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Environmental Protection Agency.

While marches and rallies can be effective in bringing attention to issues and policies, Orange County Immigrant Youth United, a group of a dozen undocumented people, uses Santa Ana City Council meetings and press conferences to speak directly to lawmakers.

Statewide, the organization worked for the Dream Act and the Not1More Deportation Campaign.

“Online engagement has been crucial to keeping the issues updated and communities informed,” said OCIYU Program Coordinator Hairo Cortes. “We’re always making sure to keep people informed and up-to-date and give them opportunities for participation. The election definitely strengthened the city council to be a little bolder, and willing to take these steps.”

Cortes and other young activists advocated for months for the city to end its contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; as of this month ICE is no longer at Santa Ana Jail. Activists also played an invaluable role in Santa Ana adopting its sanctuary city policy in December 2016.

“No other detention has been closed in a long time. Here we made it happen. It is a testament to our members and supporters,” Cortes said.