Joint statement from Santa Ana City Council Member Vicente Sarmiento and VietRISE on Recent Incidents that Created Harm in the Vietnamese Community

September 3, 2020
View PDF here
Contact: Allison Vo,; Office of Council Member Vicente Sarmiento: 714-647-5214

Below is a joint statement from Santa Ana City Council Member Vicente Sarmiento and Vietnamese American community group VietRISE on recent incidents that created harm and division in the Vietnamese Community in Orange County.

In addition, VietRISE Executive Director Tracy La shared the following message regarding these events to the Voice of OC on Tuesday, September 2, which read:

“It’s clear that neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party as it currently stands today in OC understand the nuances of our history and our experiences, and they continue to simplify us in a pro- or anti-communist dichotomy. Our elected leaders need to stop using our trauma and the history of violence that we still face today as a result of the war merely as simplified political chess pieces to win their elections or to harm each other’s parties. If congressional representatives and local elected officials really cared about the Vietnamese community, they should be equally loud about enacting things like rent control in their communities, defunding immigration enforcement, condemn the OC Sheriff Department’s complicity with Trump’s ICE regime, and ensure that working families and small businesses are protected during this unprecedented health crisis”

‘OC Democratic Leader’s Praise for Ho Chi Minh Sends Little Saigon Into Uproar’, Voice of OC (Sept 2, 2020) // Link

SANTA ANA, CAFrom Santa Ana Council Member Vicente Sarmiento: “I have proudly represented many Vietnamese Americans in my role as a member of the Santa Ana City Council since 2007.  Through the relationships I built with Vietnamese residents in the city,  I know that Vietnamese Americans have endured a painful history and prolonged trauma as a result of the war in Vietnam and their settlement in the United States.

I’m deeply saddened by the ill-advised remarks made earlier this week by a member of the Democratic Party of Orange County and all of the subsequent statements from leaders from both the Republican and Democratic Party that have reopened old wounds for many Vietnamese Americans.  I condemn all comments that are insensitive and highly offensive towards any community, and in this case, these statements harmed members of the Vietnamese community.  I commit to continue learning about the histories and experiences of Vietnamese residents and engaging directly with them in order to better understand and serve our residents.

I am joining with Vietnamese residents from community group VietRISE, a nonprofit community organization that works with residents in our city and the Little Saigon community to share this message: I implore us all to not use this incident to advance an agenda that does not center what Vietnamese residents are saying they need from us as elected officials in Orange County today, especially in the middle of a public health crisis.  We have a collective obligation as a society to be more thoughtful in our comments.  Consequently, we must demand that our leaders be held to a higher standard when using their platforms in the public square.”

From VietRISE: “We appreciate Council member Sarmiento for listening to Vietnamese residents and centering our voices as members of the community and the issues we are facing. Our elected leaders need to stop using our trauma for political gain, and to instead use their platforms and collective voices to commit to uplifting the socio-economic issues impacting working class Vietnamese residents everyday. These include enacting affordable housing, rent control, protections for immigrants, and protecting working class residents impacted by COVID-19. This is exactly the areas of change that many Vietnamese residents have said they need from our leaders in the city and across Orange County.”

Press Release: Cultural Festival in Little Saigon to Celebrate Sanctuary for Immigrants and Refugees

For Immediate Release
PDF Version Here
Sunday, October 20th, 2019

Tracy La, (858) 598-7805 |
SG Sarmiento, (202) 746-2099 |


25 years after Orange County was the birthplace of CA’s proposition 187, a new generation of youth are leading a cross-cultural movement to “bring human rights home” 

Little Saigon, Orange County, CA – On Sunday, October 20th, VietRISE and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) are hosting “We Celebrate Sanctuary Here,” a daylong community festival that will bring Vietnamese, Latino, and immigrant communities together in support of inclusion and solidarity, and in defiance of the re-animated politics of white supremacy.  

“Orange County is changing because of immigrant and refugee communities. We envision a county that is inclusive, that honors our cultures, and that upholds immigrant and human rights for all.” said Tracy La, Executive Director of VietRISE. “We reject the politics of hate and fear that some elected officials in Orange County have promoted and we will not stand by anti-immigrant rhetoric.”

“The power to defeat hate and trumpism won’t come from the top down,” said Salvador Sarmiento, National Campaign Director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “It will come from grassroots organized communities coming together to reaffirm who we all are, to celebrate each other, and to defend our most fundamental civic guarantees. Today’s festival is a call to action, from the bottom of our hearts.”

What:  We Celebrate Sanctuary Here: Community Festival 
When:  Sunday, October 20, 11:00AM – 4:00PM (speakers 1:00-2:00PM) 
Where:  Atlantis Play Center, 13630 Atlantis Way, Garden Grove

This community festival is free and open to the public.  It will bring together art and cultural activities such as a live art installation painting, screen printing, Vietnamese lantern-making, and papel picado (Mexican “pecked paper”).  There will also be live music and performances from OC and LA bands, poets and DJ’s, as well as local immigrant-owned businesses, community organizations and educational resources for immigrant families and youth.