A summit that intended to mobilize some of Southern California’s Latino leaders against President Donald Trump’s “harmful” policies became fraught with controversy.
Those who attended the Mexican@ and Latin@ State Summit, held last Saturday at UC Riverside, witnessed heated arguments between event organizers and Trump supporters.
Despite flaring tension and disruptions, the meeting finished with no reported incidents of arrests or violence.
Summit leaders are confident they will push forward with what they say is a long term strategy to “countervail and halt Trump’s nationalist policies.”
“It is our job to be diligent in making sure we do all we can to protect all of our communities, including our immigrant communities,” said Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes (D-Grand Terrace). “The California legislature remains committed…to establishing our state as place of unity and safety.”
The dozen or so Trump supporters, many of whom are affiliated with right-wing group We The People Rising, taunted, teased, and jeered at Latino panelists for speaking in Spanish and defending immigrant rights.
Summit keynote speaker Kevin De León faced the brunt of We The People Rising’s criticism. The group called the state’s Senator Pro Tempore an “anchor baby”, “lawbreaker”, and “traitor” as he addressed the audience.
“We the People Rising hounded and booed his every lie,” wrote Arthur Schaper, a member of the right-wing group. “We demanded accountability and respect for our nation’s laws, and a return to national supremacy and state sovereignty.”
During his keynote address, De León (D-Los Angeles) criticized Trump for his aspirations of stripping sanctuary cities of federal dollars and rebuked House and Senate Republicans for supporting a health care bill that would be, “the largest tax cut for the wealthiest of Americans.”
“Poor people will get sicker,” De León said. “And as a result, more people will die when their health care is taken away from them.”
Many Latinos and progressive democrats view De León as the leader of the Trump resistance–mainly due to his authorship of Senate Bill 54, which aims to prohibit local and state law enforcement cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
De León promised the audience that the state will continue to uphold the progressive values that he believes are being jeopardized by the Trump administration.
“Our values, our vision, our economic progress is in direct conflict with the new administration’s vision for America,” said De León. “And we’re going to have to fight like never before.”