Nearly 300 pro immigrant activists and followers gathered July 10 at the entrance to the Luxe Hotel in Brentwood to protest a speech millionaire Donald Trump gave to a conservative group there.
While the number of onsite protesters was not outstanding, the press coverage was virtually nonstop two days prior to and on the day of the event as pro immigrant groups led by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) organized the protest against Trump and his incendiary words about Mexican immigrants.
After announcing his bid to the White House, the combed-over Republican said during a campaign speech: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
Those words caused powerful Univision and Macy’s to cut ties with the real estate mogul. And they created other consequences that are still reverberating across the country.
Trump has minimized and dismissed the reaction as well as the protests against him, which has given him a platform on major news networks. The effect has been divergent.
Latinos United in Opposition
Trump’s sentiments have galvanized the Latino community.
“The community is united because these words are unfair and hurtful and present an obstacle to obtaining an immigration reform,” said CHIRLA spokesman Jorge Mario Cabrera. “He is painting the entire community with a wide brush stroke.”
However, while Cabrera and many others believe that Trump’s words will be his undoing, he notes Trump’s words should not be taken lightly.
“We must attack any hate rhetoric no matter where it comes from because it’s no joke, it’s unacceptable”, Cabrera said.
Even Republican leaders are trying to distance themselves from Trump.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said he was personally offended by the comments. Bush, a former governor of Florida, is married to a naturalized Mexican, Columba Bush, and their children have Mexican blood.
Another candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida, called Trump’s comments “offensive, inaccurate and divisive.” And former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney branded Trump’s comments as a “severe error.”
Lead in the Polls
But several polls have put Trump ahead of the numerous Republican presidential candidates, with plenty of support from potential voters.
According to a recent Washington Post poll, 57 percent of Republicans now have a favorable view of Trump compared to 40 percent who have an unfavorable one. The numbers are especially interesting in comparison to those from just a month before, which indicated that 65 percent of Republicans viewed Trump unfavorably.
Cabrera said he is not surprised.
“What is worrisome is that there is a lot of support of his hate rhetoric,” he noted.
But Cabrera added he doesn’t think it will be long lasting.
“For the Republican party, it’s more a distraction, an entertainment, than a real candidate in the long run,” he said. “The real question is whether those people who support him in the polls will vote for him, and I’m not sure that will happen.”
The Real Protest — Votes
Cabrera and other pro immigrant activists hope the Latino rejection to Trump’s words motivate people to go and make their voices heard where it counts, the ballot box.
“In the primaries, when the vote comes we will really be able to measure how offended and upset we are, that’s our challenge as a community,” Cabrera said.
“With his racist, xenophobic comments, Donald Trump has shown he is not a serious candidate for President,” said Martha Arévalo, executive director of the Central America Resource Center in Los Angeles.
“But more importantly, Latinos will remember his hateful comments, as well as Republicans’ reluctance to denounce him, when they go to the voting booth. He cannot get away with demeaning California’s newest majority.”