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As a soft rain fell in the Mission District on a recent morning, marking the start of another work day, dozens of the district’s Latino residents shuttled to bus stops as business owners opened up shop, carefully setting up jewelry displays, carting out fresh batches of sweet bread and unpacking fruit along the sidewalk. Mothers carried bundled-up toddlers. Friends met for coffee, speaking freely in Spanish.
This is the vibrant immigrant community that Carmen Sanchez wants President Trump to see. These are the people she wants highlighted in his prime-time speeches, spontaneous tweets and trips to the border.
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But since his 2016 election, Trump has often painted a much darker picture of people crossing the border into the United States, characterizing undocumented immigrants in particular as killers, rapists, drug smugglers and job stealers. Trump — who proposed Saturday to extend protections for immigrants who arrived as children or were displaced by disasters in their home countries, in exchange for funding for a border wall — has leaned on that profile heavily in his push for the barrier, saying Saturday, “The lack of border control provides a gateway — a very wide and open gateway — for criminals and gang members to enter the United States.”
But his strategy has come at a cost, immigrants and advocates say. They say the heightened rhetoric has translated into hostility and violence directed at immigrants — whether or not they entered the country illegally — and Latinos in particular. The effects have been profound in diverse regions like the Bay Area, where there are an estimated 1.7 million Latinos, according to census data.
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“If the president of the United States is speaking this way of Latinos, then of course some people are going to look at us like garbage, as if we bring in drugs, live off welfare...
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