Arizona protesters chant, dance to defy Trump immigration policy

Maricruz Ramirez, Phoenix danced to showcase Latino culture in a protest as Donald Trump spoke about immigration in the Phoenix Convention Center. (Photo by Courtney Columbus/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Protesters danced to celebrate Latino culture and chanted about immigration rights Wednesday to defy Donald Trump as he outlined his immigration policy.

At moments during the protest, the crowd turned to chants of “Trump is hate,” and “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido,” or “united people will never be defeated.”

Maricruz Ramirez, 50, dressed in a traditional Mexican outfit, twirled to blasting music in front of giant balloon versions of the Republican nominee for president and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. A tightly packed crowd of protesters, many from several Latino organizations, surrounded her on three sides, cheering her on and waving signs bearing slogans like #DumpTrump and, in Spanish, “Stop the Hate.”

Ernesto Lopez, 29, likened Trump to Arpaio, who has faced criticism from Latino organizations who accuse him of racial profiling.

“People are pretty amped up against Trump and Arpaio,” Lopez said. “We know he is still in line with people like Arpaio.”

Many of the protesters said Trump won’t be able to win their votes because of his past comments about Latinos and his promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

“Our roots are more beautiful than his hate,” said Norma Jimenez, 24, who volunteers for the group Bazta Arpaio.

Trump arrived in Phoenix after a controversial meeting with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto earlier Wednesday. In March, the Mexican leader said his country wouldn’t pay for the wall Donald Trump proposed between the U.S. and Mexico.

Unpopular President Peña Nieto had a 63 percent disapproval rating as of July, according to a poll by El Universal.

Activist Salvador Reza, the coordinator of human-rights group Tonatierra, criticized Peña Nieto’s decision to meet with Trump.

“Peña Nieto has no inkling of what Trump stands for,” he said.