Photo Courtesy of CHIRLA

A coalition of immigrant rights groups along with faith and civil rights organizations held a protest rally outside of the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley prior to the Presidential debate. 

The coalition had previously submitted a letter to CNN asking the network” to bring back civil discourse and to ask the candidates during the live debate to pledge to stop using hate speech, especially as it pertains to immigrant working families.”

The letter was tweeted to CNN debate moderators Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, and Hugh Hewitt and posted on various social media platforms.

The Presidential debate indicated how much “leeway would  be given to the language of hate,” said the letter in part. “The further the candidates are from our diverse experiences, the more they can avoid being held accountable for what they say.”

 “America is changing for the better and with it comes an incredible diversity. While some see this as the end to an era they once knew, we see it as the culmination of all that makes our country great. This is the new emerging America,” read the missive.

 The letter called on CNN to ask the candidates to pledge “to stop using hate speech which incites violence against immigrants and working people,” to “protect the constitution, including the 14th amendment,” and to “meet and listen to US-citizen children, spouses, and families of undocumented immigrants” to help find a pragmatic, humane and prompt solution to the question of undocumented immigration.

 Trump Protest

Meanwhile,  Amid chants during a separate protest Wednesday from those upset with Donald Trump’s  hard-line stance on immigration, Republican presidential hopeful Donald J. Trump rallied supporters aboard the USS Iowa in San Pedro, again vowing to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and to vastly increase the size and power of the nation’s military.

“We’re going to make our country so great. We are going to make it strong,” he said during the appearance organized by Veterans for a Strong America. “We are going to make it powerful. We’re going to rebuild the military, we’re going to make it so strong. We are going to take care of our veterans.”

With protesters chanting in the distance, Trump used his trademark brash style to hail the “silent majority” supporting his campaign, insisting that they are “not silent” any more.

“They’re disgusted with our incompetent politicians. They’re disgusted with the people who are giving our country away,” he said.

“They’re disgusted when they tell the Border Patrol agents who are good people and can do the job, they’re disgusted when they’re allowed to — people just walk right in front of them, and they’re standing there helpless and people just pour into the country. They’re disgusted when a woman who’s nine months pregnant walks across the border, has the baby and you have to take care of that baby for the next 85 years.

“They’re disgusted by what’s happening to our country.”

Protesters chanted during Trump’s speech, but they were largely drowned them out with his booming speech that was often punctuated by cheers from the partisan crowd.

Trump’s visit was condemned by thousands of people who signed an online petition calling for the operators of the USS Iowa, which has been docked in San Pedro as a tourist attraction and museum since 2012, to cancel the event.   Some contended Trump’s visit — on the eve of the CNN Republican candidate debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library — was not an appropriate use of the battleship.

“This battleship is part of American history and should not allow a man who has injured and insulted a significant portion of the Los Angeles community,” wrote Gabriela Lopez of San Pedro, who started the petition on “We are for freedom of speech, however this ship represents freedom, equality and justice; terms that do not align with Mr. Trump’s political views.”

Lopez went on to say that those who signed the petition share a belief in zero-tolerance for hateful remarks and discrimination. Others who made comments online shared similar sentiments. “I’m signing (the petition) because Trump’s message should not be heard in a community that is largely made up of hard-working immigrants and people of color,” Flor Barajas Tena of Santa Ana wrote.

Another commenter, Ana Alvarez of Harbor City, simply wrote, “I don’t like Donald Trump.”

Sen. Isadore Hall, D-San Pedro, visited the battleship hours before Trump’s speech, and said he stands with Latino veterans to send “a clear message to Donald Trump that his un-American, hateful views aren’t welcome in California.’

“Frankly, I can’t think of a worse person to speak about our nation’s military than someone who believes that all Latino immigrants are criminals,”Hall said.