Daniel Prieto skipped class on Friday and stood outside Fresno’s Donald Trump rally holding a sign with a Bible verse from Exodus.
“You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt,” the 15-year-old’s sign said, targeting the presidential candidate’s stance on immigration. The San Joaquin Memorial student called Trump – who spoke to thousands at the Selland Arena – “unfair and uncultured.” Several of Prieto’s family members are Mexican immigrants who served in the U.S. military.
“I mean, we fought for this country. We helped build it,” he said. “We contribute so much to this community. Our home is here.”
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Prieto was not alone. Many young people came out for the event – some protesting Trump’s visit to Fresno, others to support him. Many had the support of their parents or teachers, who saw the event as a teaching moment.
Edison High School student Adrian Caballero held a sign with Trump’s name forming the shape of a swastika, while his classmate Isaiah Asprec held a sign that said “Viva Mexico.” Sunnyside High School senior Athena Carrera, 18, was also there to protest, saying Trump perpetuates hatred.
“I hate him the reason everyone else hates him,” Carrera said. “But I have a bigger problem with his supporters. They’re just so obnoxious and ignorant.”
Trenton Pressley, 18, of Visalia was there Friday and said that when he votes this year for the first time ever, he plans to vote for Trump. But the Redwood High School student said being a vocal Trump fan hasn’t been easy; his car was keyed recently.
“I just think it’s really trashy when they’re here protesting and saying (expletive) Donald Trump,” Pressley said of Friday’s protesters. “I love him.”
His classmate, Gunner Batchman, was less passionate: “I’m just here to see if he’s really as crazy in person as he is on TV,” he said.
Twelve-year-old Johnathan Espinoza wasn’t there to take a stance – he was there to hear others’ thoughts on Trump. The Alta Sierra Intermediate student wore a suit and interviewed attendees outside Friday’s event, while his father videotaped.
“He’s very advanced. He’s very astute and sees what’s going on in the world and has a very strong understanding of what is right and what is wrong,” said Johnathan’s father, Marcus Fierro.
Johnathan said he’s a Trump supporter, and is particularly fond of his calls for stricter immigration laws.
“I support Trump. He wants to secure a border,” he said. “My grandparents were from Mexico and they came over here, spent lots of money, had to wait a couple years to be legal, and I don’t think it’s fair for other people to come over here illegally and get the same rights.”
But some Fresno students have fear and anxiety about a potential Trump presidency. Nearly 70 percent of Fresno Unified students are Hispanic.