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Washington, DC – On a press call this afternoon, community leaders and immigration advocates highlighted how Donald Trump’s explicitly anti-immigrant and anti-Latino campaign is fostering a toxic climate with real life consequences.
A Trump rally and event held in Miami this past weekend offered the latest disturbing reminder of the ugliness swirling around Trump’s presidential run. In Miami, a group of protesters attended with the goal of disrupting Trump’s hate speech. In response to the protesters, whose actions occurred at several intervals during the candidate’s remarks, Donald Trump said: “See the first group, I was nice: ‘Oh, take your time … The second group, I was pretty nice. The third group, I’ll be pretty more violent. And the fourth group, I’ll say, ‘Get the hell out of here!’”
Perhaps taking their cues from the candidate’s words, Trump’s supporters forcefully dragged out and kicked one of the protesters, Florida International University student Ariel Rojas (video available via this link), as fellow Trump supporters cheered and chanted “USA! USA!” On today’s press call, Rojas described the incident and said, “Trump is saying disrespectful things to the immigrant community…the best way to combat that is to have an alternate positive message to keep pushing for.”
Thomas Kennedy, an activist with the Florida-based organization United Families who attended the Trump event in Miami, noted that he experienced and witnessed additional incidents of violence against the pro-immigrant protesters. Kennedy said: “The people involved in this action conducted themselves with the utmost bravery and dignity. Although many were undocumented, they were not scared to stand up for their rights at whatever cost. They left everything behind in their countries and risked their lives for a better life; now, the last thing they have to fear is an entitled racist millionaire.”
The confrontations in Miami are just the latest in a disturbing array of ugly actions, including physical violence, involving Trump, his supporters, or his staff harassing or attacking Latinos and immigrants (see the “Trump Hate Map” athttp://americasvoice.org/TrumpHateMap/ for additional details).
The ugly climate that Trump’s campaign is fostering casts a further pall over the candidate’s scheduled appearance at an Iowa high school this week. Tomorrow, Trump is scheduled to speak at the West High School campus in Sioux City, IA – a school with a student body that is approximately 30% Latino. Ahead of Trump’s appearance, students from the high school and pro-immigrant allies have highlighted how Trump’s campaign and the anti-immigrant and anti-Latino climate he fosters should have no place at their school. Nearly 1,000 community members have RSVP’ed on Facebook for a silent rally on Tuesday night and over a thousand Iowans have signed a petition calling on Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman to prevent Trump from holding his rally their high school.
On today’s press call, Sioux City resident and West High School graduate Francisco Valdez, who helped to organize the petition against Trump’s appearance at West High School, noted that, “This isn’t about politics, it’s about the safety of the community.” Valdez pointed out that leaders at West High School have long opposed bullying in any form – and that Trump’s language and the climate he brings with him are a violation of that policy.
Matt Hildreth, Director of Iowa’s Voice, similarly noted, “It’s hypocritical. If Trump was a student saying these things, he’d be in detention per the West High anti-bullying policy. Why are we holding Donald Trump to a lesser standard than we’re holding teenagers?”
Click here for a recording of today’s call.