‘He’s not wanted’: immigration activists to protest Donald Trump at border visit

Donald Trump will be met by over a thousand protesters when he lands in Texas to visit the US-Mexico border on Thursday, according to the League of United Latin American Citizens (Lulac).

The Republican presidential hopeful has been roundly criticised for a series of slurs on the Latino community and Mexico, and activists say he will face a hostile environment when he arrives in the city of Laredo, which has a 95.6% Hispanic and Latino population.

Trump is in Laredo after accepting an invitation from US border patrol agents on the latest leg of his bid to run for president. Trump has pledged to makeMexico pay for a wall along the border, and has accused the country of sending “rapists” and “drug dealers” as immigrants into the US.

“He’s not wanted, his ideas are not wanted here,” said Isidro Garza Jr, a Texas state Lulac representative who is involved in organising the anti-Trump rally atLaredo international airport, where Trump is due to arrive at 1pm.

“Most of the people who have called me about it are irate. It’s not just something in passing. It hits at the heart. And if you take away a person’s dignity, who are you? What’s left behind?”

Protesters plan to follow Trump on his visit to the Mexican border before accompanying the 69-year-old billionaire to a speech he will give in the city.

“He’ll get a message,” Garza Jr said. He said residents were “very upset” about what is becoming Trump’s campaign cornerstone of launching attacks on immigrants.

“His intent of why he’s saying it, that’s up to him, you can ask him. But how we’re receiving it, maybe he doesn’t understand. We will make it very clear.”

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The former Apprentice host has been dropped by a string of businesses due to remarks made during his month-long campaign, but is currently topping the polls, ahead of more experienced candidates including Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz. Trump has been invited to Laredo by a local chapter of the National Border Patrol Council, a labor union that represents agents working on the border.

Hector Garza, the president of the chapter, told CNN that he extended the invitation to give Trump a “boots on the ground perspective”. Garza said the tour was not an endorsement, and said he had invited other candidates.

Trump’s campaign announced the trip on Wednesday morning. Trump will address the media at the border, while press were also invited to await his arrival at the airport and attend his later address.

Lisa Navarrete, a spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organisation, said the trip was a bid by Trump to “get the ball back in the court where he’s had success”. Trump was roundly criticised for denouncing Senator John McCain last week; asserting that McCain, who was held prisoner in Vietnam for five-and-a-half years, was “ not a war hero ”.

“This is a calculated move to get the conversation back to immigration, back to what he considers his strong suit. And to get attention,” Navarrete said.

“He wants to bolster his credentials as someone who tells the truth no matter what the consequences, and he’ll go into the ‘lion’s den’ – a city that’s overwhelming Latino – and say the same inane nonsense he’s been saying in New York.”

The Republican party had been criticised for its reluctance to distance itself from Trump, although the GOP national committee issued a statement saying there was “no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably” on Saturday. Former Texas governor Rick Perry, himself running for president, has called for Trump to back out of the race, while other contenders have also been critical.

Navarrete said Trump “insults people like he’s in the playground and he’s eight years old”, and said Trump’s comments on Latinos and immigrants could cause serious damage not just to his campaign but to the Republican party as whole.

“I think it’s going to have consequences for the party,” she said. “We’re talking about 55 million people – we’re not a small community by any stretch of the imagination, and we are going to be the future workers of this country, we’re contributing, we’re serving in the military. It really just rankles everybody in the community.”