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Legislative staffers say pro-Trump supporters called them ‘illegal’ for being dark-skinned

Navajo legislator also says protesters asked him if he is in the U.S. illegally

Four-year-old Alexander Flores stands with his back to Trump supporters shouting insults at the Capitol on Jan. 25. (Photo courtesy of Marilyn Rodriguez)

Four-year-old Alexander Flores stands with his back to Trump supporters shouting insults at the Capitol on Jan. 25. (Photo courtesy of Marilyn Rodriguez)

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include strong denials from pro-Trump protesters of allegations they singled out dark-skinned individuals, as well as video links showing their interactions during a protest at the Capitol on Jan. 25.

Supporters of President Donald Trump singled out dark-skinned lawmakers, legislative staffers and children at the Capitol on Jan. 25 as they protested congressional efforts to pass immigration reform, according to staffers of the Arizona Legislature and two Democratic legislators.

Waving large flags in support of Trump while standing between the House and Senate buildings, the protesters, who were also armed, asked just about anyone who crossed their path if they “support illegal immigration.”

They called some “illegal” and told them to “go home,” barbs they reserved for those with brown skin, according to the staffers.

Two women who said they were part of the protest against illegal immigration at the Capitol vehemently denied accusations that they singled out dark-skinned people and accused them of being illegal immigrants.

But Lisette Flores and Selianna Robles, policy advisors for Senate Democrats, said they were yelled at when they walked from the Senate to the House lawn, directly passing the Trump supporters, to get lunch at a farmers market. Three white coworkers offered to escort Flores, Robles, and Democratic staffer Dora Ramirez back to their offices, Robles said.

“We’re walking back, and they start yelling again, ‘Get out of the country.’ At that point, they pointed to Lisette, called her an illegal, and said, ‘Get out, go back home!’” Robles said. “But they pointed at Jane (Ahern), who works for the House, and they said, ‘No, you can stay.’”

Ahern, a policy advisor for House Democrats, is white.

“I was born in California,” said Flores. “I’m obviously of Mexican descent, so I think in that group I’m the darkest one. Selianna and Dora, they’re light-skinned Latinos. So, I think probably that’s why they pointed at me out of a group of six.”

“They assume things about you. There’s not much we can do,” said Robles, an Arizona native raised in the town of San Luis. “We work for the state, we’re public servants, and we’re just here to do our job.”

Lawmakers said they were also questioned based on their appearance. Rep. Eric Descheenie, D-Chinle, said he was confronted by Trump supporters while helping defend a young student that he said was being harassed.

They asked Descheenie, a Navajo lawmaker, if he was in the United States illegally.

Rep. Eric Descheenie (D-Chinle)

Rep. Eric Descheenie (D-Chinle)

“I’m indigenous to these lands,” Descheenie said. “My ancestors fought and died on these lands. I just told them, ‘Don’t ask me that question.’”

Rep. César Chávez, D-Phoenix, said he was approached by a female Trump supporter asking who he was and who he represents. For “the fun of it,” Chávez said, he replied, “I’m an undocumented legislator.” Chávez was brought from Mexico to the United States as a child.

He said he wanted the protesters “to understand that in this country, through a process, you, too, can be a part of a nation that provides opportunity to everybody. I wanted them to understand that an individual who came to this country undocumented at the age of three is now a member of the Arizona State Legislature.”

Chávez said the woman reacted by calling him “illegal.”

“She said something like, “You’re illegal. Once illegal, always illegal,” he said. “I took no offense, no attention. It was just simply one of those things where you’re going to have a stance and I’m going to have a stance and we’re never going to agree on things.”

Jennifer Caminiti-Harrison and Lesa Antone said they were at the Capitol to protest activists with Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA). The women told the Arizona Capitol Times in a phone interview tonight they’re against illegal immigration and don’t believe the LUCHA activists, who they alleged are undocumented, have the right to lobby state legislators.

In denying the allegations, Caminiti-Harrison and Antone countered that their group was harassed by the LUCHA activists. In a live stream of the protest uploaded to Facebook by Antone, a LUCHA member could be heard telling a black Trump supporter, “You’re gonna be the first to get lynched.”

“First, we were a group of several white, black and Latina Americans. To make assumptions that we were only calling out Hispanic representatives or ‘non-white’ legislatures (sic) is a disgusting, blatant lie,” Caminiti-Harrison also wrote in an email. “We also had legal immigrants visiting the Capitol who stood in solidarity with us along with Republican lawmakers who thanked us for being there and stopped for a photo.”

In a video uploaded to YouTube, Republican Reps. Jay Lawrenece, of Scottsdale, and Bob Thorpe, of Flagstaff, are seen speaking and taking photos with protesters.

“We asked every rep, white or otherwise, if they supported illegal immigration and why they put the needs of illegal immigrants over the needs of American citizens,” Caminiti-Harrison wrote. “Never at any time did we ask the representatives if they were illegals. Never.”

A 14-minute video of yesterday’s protest uploaded on YouTube shows several interactions initiated by the anti-illegal immigration protesters. Near the beginning of the video, one protester could be heard assuming that members of a group are staying illegally in the U.S.

“No, they’re not legal. They’re illegal,” a woman can be heard saying.

“Yeah, we know they’re illegal. Get legal or get out of America … They’re illegal, see that?” another woman shouted at the group.

In another part of the video, a woman can be heard confronting a group of men.

“Why do you want to stay in our country if you hate it so much?” she said.

One member of the group, a man, came back to tell the protester that she and others “need to get educated.”

They exchanged a few more words, and he said, “This land wasn’t your guys.’” She yelled at him as he walked away, “You are an illegal alien.”

When the man denied the accusation, the woman responded: “Those guys are illegal … They do not have any rights here. It is not their time. This is our time. Our nation. Our laws. Our streets.”

The video also shows what appeared to be a LUCHA activist shielding a young man who was being questioned by the protester about his stance on immigration.

“So, you also believe in ‘No border, No wall, No USA at all? Do you also believe in that? … Because if you do, why are you here? Because if you don’t support America, why are you here?” the protester said.

“He’s not talking to you,” the LUCHA activist tells the protester and unleashes a profane word. Another protester then replies, “Get legal or get out. Go in there and fill your [expletive] paper out and get legal.”

Trump supporters also disrupted a press conference hosted Thursday morning by LUCHA activists who came to the Capitol to raise awareness about legislation they’re backing.

As LUCHA Executive Director Tomas Robles spoke to a crowd of supporters in Spanish, Trump supporters could be heard shouting over him, “Go home.”

“I served five years in the Marine Corps. I fought for people’s freedoms to be able to come into this space and to be able to voice their concerns to the representatives that represent their cities and towns,” he said. “The fact that I got called an illegal, the fact that all our constituents were called so many names … every single person has a right to be here.”

Antone posted on Facebook a nearly two-hour video showing pro-Trump supporters shouting at the LUCHA activists on the subject of wages. At one point, a woman who was part of the pro-Trump group yelled at the LUCHA activists, “You don’t deserve more money just for showing up … You don’t get more money ’cause you’re brown.”

Mary Lou Sandoval, a Maryvale resident who attended the LUCHA event, later saw the protesters screaming at children who were touring the Capitol on field trips.

“[It] was a little ridiculous. You can protest peacefully as well, and you can make your own presence [felt] peacefully,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs (D-Phoenix) (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs (D-Phoenix) (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, wrote a letter to Senate President Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, and Senate security officials outlining what she called the harassment of staffers who the protesters “perceived not to be white,” and complained about a lack of response from law enforcement at the scene observing the protest.

“I can tell you that the Democratic staff who were yelled at by the protesters and called illegals definitely felt harassed and were not satisfied with the response,” Hobbs wrote. “They did not feel safe.”

Hobbs said she was told by an officer on Thursday that law enforcement was instructed to stand down while the Trump supporters exercised their First Amendment rights.

Their protest went “far beyond” the First Amendment, Hobbs wrote.

“This is a public place. When armed protesters aggressively go after members, staff and visitors, there needs to be a response that ensures the safety of everyone involved,” Hobbs wrote. “I have seen instances here at the capital (sic) when peaceful protesters with a different agenda were surrounded by many more law enforcement officers with a much more aggressive response.”

“This is unacceptable,” she added.

Officials with the Department of Public Safety did not return a request for comment.

Read Hobb’s letter below.


Yarbrough Letter of Concern (Text)


  1. Absolutely and totally unacceptable.

  2. Thank you so much for writing this accurate and telling article on the disgraceful behavior yesterday… I was there and personally witnessed it I filmed an hour of it on my Facebook live and have received over 18,000 views people from around the country witness this and I daresay from around the world… Unbelievable… I witnessed him going up to children screaming at children… I witnessed them going up to legislators that were indigenous screaming at them because of the color of their skin demanding to know if they were legal or illegal thank you again I’m glad I documented this on video and I’m glad that so far 18,000 people have witnessed this despicable behavior on the part of Trump supporters.
    PS I have posted a link to the Facebook video and also have representative Powers Pamela Hanley coming up to me during my broadcast stating how a palled she was that they were going up to children and screaming at them in addition… I witnessed representatives Lawrence, Thorpe and Borrelli going up to the room and talking with them having a great time and putting her thumbs up despite witnessing what they were doing… Also some of the Trump supporters continued Throughout the whole ordeal… continued to chum it up with one particular special officer from Az. governor Ducey’s office … at one point I was continually being chased by several Trump supporters with crystals on their hips and I went up to this officer who was sympathetic to the Trump supporters and asked him to please tell them to stop following me that I was trying to stay away from them on my counter protest and the officer responded by saying stop yelling at me finally after I said to the officer to please ask them to stop trying to intimidate me with their weapons on their hips this officer who is sympathetic to the Trump supporters relented and told him to stop but continue to speak with them and the very sympathetic manner the whole time. Below is the link to some of the event it is for over an hour.

    Leonard Clark,

    January 26, 2018

    Phoenix, Arizona

  3. A completely one-sided article as you never spoke with those who don’t share the opinions of the people or legislators interviewed for this one-sided story.

  4. This is not what happened and we have video proof. We Demand a meeting.

  5. Aggressive armed protestors singling out people, including children (!) for harassment, and nothing is done? You’re supposed to be better than that, Arizona. Shame on these “protestors.” Unreal.

  6. By reading your biased one sided article it is clear you were neither there or got the position of the other side. Having watched multiple hours of live feed the only reasonable conclusion one could make is that your article is a gross exaggeration at best and complex defamatory falsehood at worst. I look forward to reading your retractons.

  7. Idoits and unacceptable. Given the amount of time they protested – I’m surprise they weren’t ask to leave. Hmmm…. Is it because they are white?

  8. Why do people Express such things about us who are pro Trump. All we want is America to be great for everybody that’s here legally. Liberal lunatics on the left always use this kind of arguments to condemn us and mr. Trump.

  9. Lady brader, Your as quilt as the ones harassing. What a stupid statement. All people that are white do not share the same opinions.

  10. In every protest I’ve ever been to, we were not allowed to carry signs on sticks, because the stick could be used as a weapon. Why is it okay for protesters to carry guns if they can’t carry a stick? Are they just WAITING for someone to be killed.

  11. How is a guy singling out a brown skinned native and assuming he’s here illegally great for America? How is that not racism?

  12. John Coctostensen

    Scumbag reactionary terrorists, the lot of them.

  13. Its interesting to hear these Trump supporters yelling at a Navajo politician if he was here illegally. Given how millions of native Americans were forced out of their homes at gun point by white settlers, these peoples ancestors. Millions died or were murdered by the white settlers coming into their territory where land was taken away from them.
    I find it very interesting in calling these and other people illiegal considering how their ancestors came to the Americas.
    If anyone has any rights to say about illiegal immigrants its the native Americans.
    Im just laughing at these people.

  14. I cannot help but notice that those defending Trump completely ignore the extensive documentation about this incident by Mr. Leonard Clark via Facebook. I would say to Gohen Maher that between 2009 and 2016 President Obama endured the worst kinds of slurs and lies imaginable, led by Trump himself who lied about having birth certificate “investigators”. it is the ultimate hypocrisy to now whine about how Trump is treated.

    Based on the reports I have seen, the description of the events in this article are true. it is quite telling that those in this forum defending Trump are more outraged about the newspaper’s editorial policies than they are about the ugly bigotry this article reports on.

    I will adapt a saying that has been used in many forms. Not every Trump supporter is an ignorant bigot. But every ignorant bigot is a Trump supporter.

  15. Agent Michael Scarn

    They are afraid. They should be. The future has no use for them.

  16. This is why I try to avoid spending a dime in Arizona when I have to drive through the state. Shame on you all for allowing bigotry and ignorance to flourish in your state.

  17. And here I thought things were out of hand in Indiana.

  18. Why was this article updated to include denials by Trump supporters that this happened WHEN

  19. If you are pro trump, you automatically agree with all the hateful things he has said and done; therefore you are complicit.

  20. Any Republican staffers to back up this story? It’s not like they don’t exist. I recall an incident a few years back when Pelosi organized a “gavel walk”, deliberately targeting Tea Party protestors, and when the expected taunts didn’t materialize, people like John Conyers just made them up. With probably hundreds of phones recording, not one racial taunt could be heard, not one aggressive act could be seen–but Conyers insisted that they had been spat upon and called racial pejoratives. I also recall a video where Code Pink protestors slapped a veteran after putting a megaphone in his face and then posted the post-slap video on the internet pretending they were just peacefully standing around when they were attacked by a madman (he barely moved toward them when they started screaming “Don’t slap me! You can’t touch me!” And don’t forget the fake Trump rally protesters who managed to film only the end of confrontations. The left has no credibility when it comes to protests. They are master propagandists.

  21. Impeach Trump for Obstruction

    trump is turning America into a fascist hellhole

  22. Policy advisors for Senate Democrats, Hrmm. . . . .
    No, they would never lie about this.

  23. I saw this happen. All the people saying this article is wrong were clearly the ones dong the harassment. People were just minding their own business when these degenerates grouped up to shout at and follow these citizens around.

  24. NOBODY IS WHITE! WHITE IS NOT A HUMAN SKIN TONE. White is a racist term that immigrants from Europe started calling themselves when they got here so that they could have some excuse for buying the “not white” slaves and killing the Native Americans.

  25. There has been fascism in America ever since Europeans settled, so this is nothing new. Someone clearly seem to have inherited it, and beyond. This is a new low in racism, ignorance, idiocy, lack of history and self-righteousness. There should be a new word or expression.

  26. Richard Lee Wagner

    Disgusted. Trump has given permission to the racist and right wing.

  27. OMG, why are people still talking about black or white or … we are all PEOPLE
    And then the fact that europians took the land from the native Americans/Indians and now claim it’s theres, without any shame…….
    I think humans should be whiped out all together, problems solved

  28. This is a bold face lie. The Corrupt DEMS lie about all sorts of **** just to keep the **** pot moving! They just want to keep us divided.

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