O.C. cities tell Vietnamese Communist officials: Stay away
Two Orange County cities want to send a message to Communist delegations from Vietnam contemplating a visit: You are not welcome.
Garden Grove officials adopted a resolution last week requiring a 14-day notice of such a visit, which the officials said can provoke protests and create safety risks. Santa Ana officials have directed city staff to draft a similar policy.
In addition, Garden Grove's resolution warns that a visiting delegation would be required to pay for any necessary police services if it fails to comply with the policy.
Vietnamese Americans have expressed outrage in recent weeks over the potential hosting of visitors from a country that they say is without basic human rights or religious freedom.
The U.S. reestablished diplomatic ties with Vietnam in 1995, and there have been dozens of visiting delegations to Orange County over the years.
Garden Grove "is certainly the wrong place to bring these visitors from Vietnam. They can bring them to Las Vegas," said Mayor-elect Bruce Broadwater, noting that one-third of his city's 170,000 residents are Vietnamese. "We're sensitive to the needs of the Vietnamese community."
Westminster in 2004 became the first city in Orange County to adopt such a policy, which eventually expired. But immigrant activists say that city and at least one other are considering new resolutions.
"Now I expect Westminster and Fountain Valley to be next. And I expect that we will hear about this issue again and again," said Nghia Xuan Nguyen, president of the Vietnamese Community of Southern California, a leading activist group. "This is important because our solidarity makes us stronger. We will influence others to do what is right."
With increasing political power from a growing Vietnamese American base across California, Nguyen noted that lobbying for the resolutions "could lead to a movement like what happened with the flag."
He was referring to the bold yellow flag with three red stripes that represents prewar Vietnam. Since 2003, more than 200 cities across the U.S. have adopted a resolution recognizing it as the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag -- and the official flag for Vietnamese Americans -- despite opposition from Vietnam's government, which banned the emblem.
The Vietnamese government is "trying to reach deeper and deeper into this country" to create ties, said Huu Dinh Vo, chairman of the Federation of Vietnamese American Communities of USA, at a news conference Saturday in Westminster's Little Saigon to introduce his group. "We will not give up fighting against them, and we will continue until there is democracy."
More local officials will support these resolutions discouraging foreign visits, Vo added, "because helping the Vietnamese community allows them to help themselves. They need our votes."
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-- Anh Do