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By Ricardo Díaz
In a matter of weeks, the United States will elect a new president. No matter what their political persuasion, almost everybody in Boyle Heights seems to agree on at least one thing: Donald Trump cannot be president.
The most recent controversy surrounding Trump has been over the release this month of a 2005 video where the Republican nominee is heard making crude, vulgar remarks about women. But Trump, who often voices his opposition to undocumented Mexican immigrants, has been embroiled in controversy since the announcement of his candidacy.
Back then his remarks about Mexican immigrants sparked a national backlash.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” he said last June.
Since then, he has repeated his comments about Mexicans and has stated he will have a wall built on the border between Mexico and the United States, and that Mexico will pay for it. The wall is a piece of his larger plan for immigration.
Early in the campaign, Trump announced that the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., especially those from Mexico, would be a priority. Recently, he has changed his plan for deportation, stating those with criminal convictions as well as those who have overstayed their visitor’s visas would be his priority for deportation. That number amounts to 5 to 6 million undocumented immigrants, which is almost half of the 11 million undocumented immigrant population in the United States, according to studies by the Migration Policy Institute and the Pew Hispanic Center.
In contrast, Hillary Clinton has said she is pursuing the presidency in order to help immigrants, among other things. In a video produced by the Hillary for America campaign, Clinton tells a young Latina girl she shouldn’t worry about her family. Instead, Clinton offers to “do the worrying.”
Regardless of how people see Clinton, she is fairly likely to win in California. As a historically solid Democratic state, California will most likely vote for Clinton this coming November, pollsters say. Since 1992, California has consistently voted for a Democratic president, and this year it is also unlikely for any other candidate to win in California.
As a community, Boyle Heights is home to many immigrants, their friends, and their families. About 94% of the population of Boyle Heights is Latino, and 52.4% are foreign born. It’s a community of immigrants, so Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants are especially provocative here.
In September, Boyle Heights Beat news reporters asked community members about their thoughts on this year’s presidential election. Many simply expressed their concerns about what Donald Trump has been saying. Others mentioned they are more excited to vote. Here is a sampling of what community members told the Beat.
Trump cannot be President
“Look, Mr. Trump would definitely be terrible for us Hispanics if he were to win,” explains Boyle Heights resident Consuelo Rentería, 63. She’s not a huge fan of Clinton, but sees her as the lesser of two
evils. “It would be a disgrace if he were to represent us,” she says. As an undocumented immigrant, Rentería can’t vote for the elections this year, but she feels very hurt from Trump’s remarks.
Kathy, 16, adds that she finds the election scary because of Donald Trump’s judgmental comments about Mexicans.
Kathy and Rentería cannot vote, but they feel strongly about everything Trump says about immigrants. For them, comments describing immigrants as rapists and criminals are especially hurtful because they cannot vote. They simply have to wait and see.
Gerardo Campos, 60, thinks critically about Trump’s negative comments. He says, “as a human being, he should not do that…and it’s really bad what he’s doing.”
Campos would not have confidence in Trump as his president and adds that Trump doesn’t love the people enough to serve as representative of the people. He asserts that Trump is simply too racist to be president.
Residents agree that voting against Trump is priority number one. In Boyle Heights, going out to vote this year is more important than ever.
“I think this is going to be one of the fewer times where everybody’s going to want to vote because everybody’s vote is going to really count,” says Daniel Rivas, 28.
Rivas finds the Republican nominee “offensive, ignorant, and arrogant,” and so he feels more motivated to vote this year to make a difference.
Miguel Fuentes Perez, 65, says, “Personally, I would like it if Ms. Clinton wins. She doesn’t have racist ideas against Latinos.” To Fuentes Perez, Trump’s candidacy for president makes him uncomfortable; he says more people will vote for Hillary Clinton in order to prevent Trump from becoming president.
For Boyle Heights residents, a Trump win would change everything. As an immigrant community, Boyle Heights would be situated at the frontlines of Trump’s new immigration plan. It’s anything but glorious to the community.
Fuentes Perez shares, “It’s angering because we are all human beings, we are not animals. Besides, we are not [only] Mexicans, all of Latin America lives here in the United States, from Central America to South America.”
Photo above: Donald Trump at a June campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Flickr user Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons
A former student journalist with Boyle Heights Beat, Ricardo Díaz is a Legal Assistant at Central American Resource Center (CARECEN-LA).
Boyle Heights Beat student journalists Diego Flores, Zola Cervantes, Andrea Galdámez and Katlyn Valdez contributed to this story.