The Radical Politics of the UNITE-HERE/OCCORD Coalition

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:

Know your rights graphic for illegals

[Here are larger versions in 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.





  1. America wants it both ways. The powerful business owners have lobbied for little or no restrictions on hiring undocumented workers for the past 30- 40 years. When the recent recession hit, all of a sudden we needed a scapegoat. It’s the cheaters…The line cutters!!!

    Now it’s all about keeping them in a box, exporting them would be too costly and granting a pathway to citizenship would be costly too.

    “How dare this Ada woman educate people about their rights…Oops I forgot, you don’t really view them as people….These workers should just be subservient and do what the man tell em to do.”

    We are better that this. We created this situation and we can solve it if we start by respecting the dignity of human life.

    • Juan:

      First, please pick a name and then stick with it.

      Secondly, once again you take issue with an argument no one here has made. Has anyone said illegal immigrants are not people? Has anyone said they should “just be subservient and do what the man tell em to do.” I’m surprised you didn’t make a plantation or Jim Crow reference while you were busy being inflammatory.

      We have laws about immigration. It is against the law to enter the country without permission – whether that involves paying to be smuggled in, or overstaying a via, of what have you. No one here illegally has a right to stay here. That is a matter of respecting the law, and also those immigrants who come here in adherence to the law. You try to present Briceno and her fellow leftists as latter-day Clarence Darrows when it’s pretty clear their actual bias is toward helping illegal immigrants remain here illegally, and hindering federal authorities in the discharge of their duties.

      Furthermore, “we” are not responsible for anyone’s decision to enter the U.S. illegally.

      Please, give us the benefit of your wisdom as to how you would reform immigration laws and whether you also believe illegal immigrants should be given immediate citizenship?.

  2. Answer number #1 Hi I’m Juan

    Answer #2 – It is my belief (based on your comments and past public displays) that you do not respect the plight of our most recent immigrants and you show a particular disdain for our culture. You think I am inflammatory, well good, because I think you are too!

    Answer #3 – Very difficult problem to solve. Together we, as a nation can figure it out. I do not think that in is keeping with my Christian faith to keep 10-15 million people here in limbo. We waved them through our southern border which until recently was hardly guarded. We have benefited from their hard labor at minimum wages and now most of them are, for all intents and purposes, American.

    You asked for my ideas…How about this one:
    1. Seal the border for real.
    2. Deport all those with violent criminal records.
    3. Issue citizenship to all of those that have worked and lived here for more than 5 years
    4. Create a pathway to citizenship for those who have been here for less than 5 years
    5. Apply strong financial penalties to any individual or business that hires a non citizen from here on out.

    • OK – you’re name isn’t and you are not Latino. A fake name is one thing, but don’t fake your ethnicity.

      Secondly, you obviously don’t know squat about my views on this matter, even though I have spelled them out very clearly. Hence your cliched (and dishonest) claim that I disdain “your” culture.

      Finally, we are not that far apart in terms of policy. I’ve gone back and forth on the pathway to citizenship, but I support a pathway to legal status for those without criminal records.

      However, it is unjust to accuse Americans of keeping illegal immigrants in “limbo.” We are not keeping anyone. People living here illegally do so by their own choice. You’re trying to absolve people of responsibility for their actions and then hold everyone else collectively guilty. Typical of the Left, and typically wrong.

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