While Donald Trump was receiving cheers and vigorous applause for his comments on illegal immigration from a crowd of more than 15,000 inside the American Airlines Center in Dallas Monday night, nearly 2,000 Latinos had marched and gathered outside the arena to protest the GOP frontrunner for those very comments.
It was the first time Latinos have mobilized in earnest against Trump since June, when Hispanic groups joined together to force NBC to drop Trump as a business partner for his disparaging remarks about Mexicans and immigrants in general.
It is true that some of Trump’s events have drawn protesters, including Latinos opposed to and offended by his rhetoric surrounding illegal immigration, but Monday’s protest march in Dallas was a concerted, organized effort complete with media advisories. According to the Dallas Police Department, the crowd at its peak was estimated to be “up to 2,000.”
Protesters began marching at 5:30 p.m. from the Cathedral de Guadalupe through downtown Dallas, holding “Dump the Trump” signs and piatas designed to look like Donald Trump. Marchers chanted anti-Trump cheers, and, once they arrived at the arena, the plan was to smash the piatas.
Inside the arena, meanwhile, even though Trump spoke for close to an hour on a wide range of topics and went off on rhetorical tangents, it was his pledge to stop illegal immigration that garnered the most enthusiastic response from the crowd and not just applause, but a prolonged standing ovation, including cheers and chants of “USA! USA!” from the mostly white attendees. “[Illegal immigration] is a massive problem,” he said. “We have to stop illegal immigration. We have to do it.”
Trump has vowed to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants from the United States if he is elected president and will build “a great big wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent further illegal immigration.
“That’s a message that we believe needs to be countered,” Domingo Garcia, president of the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), told The Dallas Morning News. “Especially here in Texas, which has had a bi-cultural, bilingual history since the beginning of its foundation.”
“We want to send a clear message to Donald Trump that his politics of hate and bigotry are not welcomed,” Garcia added. “We are not political piatas. Trump is turning Americans on each other with his hateful and racist rhetoric. We will show him that Americans believe in inclusion and being a country of immigrants.”
While the city of Dallas is 42 percent Hispanic and 51 percent white, the demographics of Trump supporters in the arena appeared to be 98 percent white, 2 percent Black and very few if any Latinos.
According to an MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll released Monday, Latinos are much more likely than other voters to view him as insulting and offensive rather than as a person who tells it like it is, and they see Trump as harmful to the image of the Republican Party.
The poll found 70 percent of Latinos hold negative views of Trump including 60 percent who said they have a “very negative” impression of him, compared to 55 percent of U.S. residents and 28 percent of Republicans who view Trump negatively.
Incidentally, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week, African Americans oppose Trump’s immigration policies even more so than Latinos, 81 percent compared to 75 percent.
Although LULAC’s Garcia, a Dallas lawyer and former Democratic state legislator who helped organize the march, said protesters were “not seeking a confrontation,” a clash did break out between protesters and Trump supporters as the latter were leaving the arena, according to Dallas police.
Protesters reportedly shouted “Shame on you!” to which Trump supporters yelled back “Keep them out!” According to Reuters, police struggled to keep the two sides separate, though there were no reported arrests or reports of further violence.