Buenas tardes, everyone. My name is Victor Valladares. I am the son of proud immigrants and Co-founder of Oak View ComUNIDAD, a grassroots community organization from Huntington Beach.
Since 2015, we have been in the trenches fighting for environmental justice, better housing and code enforcement, immigrants’ rights, and much more. Since the Trump administration executive order was signed on January 25, 2017 our undocumented communities of color have been on the edge of their seats — nervous and scared of what will happen next.
In Orange County, we have seen groups being formed, and alliances and coalitions being built, to contribute to the #Resistance against the Trump regime. Many constituents from our Congressional District (CD-48) have become part of a created a large and growing group by the name of “Indivisible OC”.
Many of the folks I have spoken to have very legitimate concerns on issues that affect many lives. These include the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), the environment (EPA), public education, the Muslim Ban, immigration, and much more. Let me be clear: Dana Rohrabacher does NOT represent me and many more like-minded folks in CD-48.
Oak View ComUNIDAD is a powerful group made up of passionate and dedicated constituents from CD-48; we have already had some major successes. Whoever will be the strong Democratic candidate facing off against the Republican, Rohrabacher, in 2018 has to be ready to answer question that affect all the constituents of CD-48. So far, I’ve heard good things about the various candidates — but one thing that stuck out to me was their failure to address the issue of immigration.
A couple days ago, I was informed by a Facebook friend that one of the Democratic candidates, Harley Rouda, was going speak at the Laguna Beach Democratic Club. I attended last night’s meeting so that I could meet him.
I introduced myself to Harley Rouda and we spoke briefly about his official Press Release — which failed to mention anything about immigration. Here it is:
“Laguna Beach Mayor Toni Iseman Backs Businessman Harley Rouda for Congress
LAGUNA BEACH, CA — Just over 24 hours after he entered the race to challenge incumbent U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher for California’s 48th Congressional District seat, today businessman Harley Rouda scored a highly coveted endorsement from Laguna Beach’s widely respected Mayor, Toni Iseman.
In announcing her endorsement of Harley Rouda for Congress, Laguna Beach Mayor Toni Iseman released the following statement:
“The status quo in Washington isn’t working. The ongoing dysfunction and mayhem is leading to more politics and less problem-solving. It’s time for a change that begins right here in the 48th District, and that’s exactly why I’m proud to strongly endorse businessman Harley Rouda for Congress. Harley is the real deal. He’s solutions-driven, tenacious and a fearless leader, who no doubt will put people first and politics last. We need his pragmatism and his abilities to generate consensus working on behalf of the great people of Orange County so that we can finally get things done in Washington. I’m with Harley 100%.”
Just yesterday, Harley Rouda threw his hat in the ring as an official candidate for the June 2018 primary in California’s 48th Congressional District. He previously announced his candidacy by releasing the following statement:
“Our Country deserves better from its politicians. Divisiveness, conflict, and finger pointing has to end. The time has come to embrace common sense and find common ground.
“That means we need elected officials who are ready to work together to serve their neighbors and their country, and have the energy and passion to deliver. It is time to have a congressional representative who is accessible and unifying. It is in this spirit that I am announcing my campaign for the 48th Congressional District of California. As a father of four, a husband, and a businessman, I am fully committed to serving our country and serving all of the constituents of the 48th District.
“We need new leadership that is willing to put country over party, and put service above self. We need new leadership that believes in science, climate change, and supports STEM and clean energy. We need new leadership that believes in women’s rights, human rights and liberties for all, and for all a better life. We need new leadership that supports public education for K through 12, and affordable access to higher education. And we need new leadership that is committed to bringing back our federal tax dollars and making our District the economic hallmark of our great country.
“I’m running to bring much needed common sense, fiscal responsibility, and the social pragmatism our 48th District and our country deserves. Join me, let’s send a clear message that it’s time for a change for the better and that it is time for career politicians like Rohrabacher to get a real job.
“You can make a difference. Visit www.harleyforcongress. com and sign up and get involved. And if you are not registered to vote, don’t wait – do it now. We need you and our country needs you.”
Harley Rouda is a successful businessman who created the firm Real Living, and now serves on the board or as an advisor of firms in real estate, retail, and a variety of industries. Rouda received an MBA from The Ohio State University, and a J.D. from Capital University Law School. He lives in Laguna Beach, with his wife Kaira Rouda, a bestselling author. They have four children.
Active in numerous charities and civic organizations over the years, Harley has been involved in fighting homelessness and domestic violence; active with Human Rights Watch; supporting education for the disadvantaged as well as supporting access to higher education; saving military jobs; and working with civic organizations to drive economic development.
The 48th Congressional District is considered a ripe pickup opportunity for Democrats, as Hillary Clinton won the district by 2%. The district is seen as all the more winnable given that Rohrabacher is one of Donald Trump’s closest allies in Congress. The 48th Congressional district also had one of the largest swings of any Congressional district in the country from 2012 to 2016, with more than 13 percentage points at the presidential level shifting to Democratic.
For more information, please visit www.HarleyforCongress. com.
The meeting began at about 7:06 p.m., so we had to cut our conversation short.
As I left my front row seat and made my way to the back of the meeting hall, I asked for permission to record the meeting, if’ it was allowed. I was given the OK by a sweet lady who was in charge of letting folks into the meeting. Here’s the link to my first video, which we can’t get to embed here:
While the live feed was on, a viewer commented that she could not see the powerpoint presentation, so I decided to get closer. The meeting room was packed with, I’d estimate, over 100 people and not one seat was available. So I sat in the middle of the walkway, near other guests who were sitting on the floor.
As I was sitting there, I saw folks in the crowd raise their hand and ask questions that they considered important. I was debating with myself whether or not to ask some questions that are very dear to my heart and our communities.
That brings us to my second video:
As y’all can see at minute 5:23 in the video, I decided to raise my hand. Mr. Rouda recognized me and called me by my name, “Victor.”
I stood up and introduced myself: “My name is Victor Valladares and I am a community grassroots organizer from Huntington Beach.” (The response from the crowd was great!)
I asked about Immigration Reform and DACA, the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” policy adopted by President Obama to protect “Dreamers” from removal.
Mr. Rouda started out talking about how there weren’t centrists in the Senate anymore and how that was bad for compromise. He said that people want secure borders. He doesn’t like a wall, but he said that we should debate the ways to accomplish it. He only wants to deport people with serious felonies, not just getting fake ID. He wants a visiting worker’s program and a pathway to citizenship. As for the Dreamers — he said nothing.
I was disappointed. I got up and walked out. Some other people walked out and you can hear them talk to me, one also wondering why he didn’t answer my specific question on DACA.
I couldn’t tell at the time during his speech whether Mr. Rouda didn’t know what DACA was — or if he did know and he chose to ignore it. If he didn’t know, though, then he found out pretty quickly. I got a call from him late in the night– and he told me that he will support it. (Unfortunately, you only have my word for that; it isn’t on video.) Let that be a head’s up for other candidates, in CA-48 and elsewhere.
Moving forward, I hope that all candidates discuss and take a stand on immigration — and, if they want student volunteers, especially on DACA. Our brothers & sisters — “hermanXs” — are looking at y’all. Let’s not forget that our communities have turned to the political party that says it will stand beside them. We have voted Democratic — but y’all already know about the deportations that happened under the Obama administration. So we will want to to know if y’all are with the LatinX communities — or against us.
I will continue to do my best & bring up immigration issues to the same Democratic establishment that says it represents our immigrant communities. While I am new to all of this, I am and will be trying hard to have our immigrant hermanxs voices heard.
#Resistance #ImmigrantRightsAreHumanRights #NOHumanIsIllegal