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In Boston, immigrants have heard enough from Trump

Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump.EPA

GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump plans to deliver a major speech on immigration Wednesday night after jetting to Mexico to meet with the country’s president. But in Boston, Pedro Morales has heard enough.

Over the past year Trump has called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” pledged to compel Mexico to pay for a permanent wall along the border, and vowed to expel more than 11 million unauthorized immigrants, nearly half of whom are Mexican. And in Boston, his rhetoric inspired two brothers last year to beat and urinate on a homeless man from Mexico.

“It’s a lost cause,” said Morales, an immigrant from Mexico who teaches at Harvard Divinity School and who has absolutely no plans to watch Trump’s speech. “Nobody in their right mind is going to think that Donald Trump is going to do something good.”


Some observers wondered whether the GOP nominee’s whirlwind agenda Wednesday marked a last-minute effort to rebuild his relationship with Latinos and immigrants in the United States, where the largest single group of immigrants hails from Mexico. Others doubted that Trump would soften his tone in his speech, pointing out that he will deliver his remarks from Arizona, a state that has aggressively attempted to crack down on illegal immigration.

In Massachusetts, advocates for immigrants say it is far too late to change anyone’s minds about Trump. To the contrary, his rhetoric has inspired a surge of citizenship applications here and nationwide so that immigrants can vote against him.

Some advocates said they may watch Trump’s speech only so that they can prepare to defend immigrants from Trump’s policies.

“Honestly he talks about this being a historic speech but we know what it’s going to say,” said Patricia Sobalvarro, executive director of Agencia ALPHA, a nonprofit in Boston. “Everything that he has said, it’s not like a real solution.”


Others, echoing Morales, said they had no plans to watch it at all.

“I’m going to lower the ratings myself,” said Lucy Pineda, executive director of Latinos Unidos en Massachusetts, an Everett-based nonprofit that aids immigrants.

At Taqueria Jalisco, an East Boston restaurant named for a state in Mexico, a woman who declined to identify herself said the restaurant did not have a television, but she wouldn’t turn it on for Trump if they did.

“Sometimes you watch TV to know what’s going on, but to watch it to support him?” said the woman, who is also from Mexico. “No.”

Jose Vidal Callejas, a furniture store owner originally from El Salvador, said he would watch the speech from home in East Boston tonight. But he said the only thing Trump has inspired him to do is vote for president for the first time – against Trump.

“Trump, no,” he said.

Talia Barrales, a Boston immigration lawyer with relatives in the United States and Mexico, lamented that Trump’s travel plans overshadowed an anti-Trump demonstration by activists from Boston and other cities Wednesday that shut down the main entrance to Trump Tower in Manhattan for an hour.

A spokesman for the group, called Harvest Movement, or Movimiento Cosecha in Spanish, said 30 to 40 demonstrators from around the United States blocked the Fifth Avenue entrance. Some protesters were chained to one another, said a group spokesman Rodrigo Saavedra, who lives in East Boston.


New York police said six women and two men were arrested for charges that include trespassing, disorderly conduct, and obstructing traffic. Saavedra said three of those arrested were from Boston.

He said the group aimed to highlight “the hypocrisy of Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant message” and to point out that his real estate projects, including Trump Tower, have relied on the labor of unauthorized immigrants.

Barrales said that instead of paying attention to Trump, she donated money to bail out the protesters.

“I think it’s more important to focus on other things,” Barrales said

Maria Sacchetti can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @mariasacchetti