Protesters Organize Rallies Against Trump and Pence Visits to Miami This Week

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Donald Trump has a curious relationship with Miami. The Magic City, in many ways, represents everything Trump rails against. We live in a chaotic melting pot of people from around the world — and have one of the highest percentages of undocumented residents in the United States. Miami also voted heavily for Hillary Clinton, which is not the kind of move to endear yourself to a guy pathologically obsessed with whether he won the popular vote.

But during his short campaign and presidency, Trump has also returned time and again to Miami to bolster his Cuban-American bona fides and to insist that Haitian voters love him. He'll be back again this week. And plenty of Miamians are already organizing to make sure his visit isn't a love-fest.

In fact, Trump's vice president and a sizable portion of his cabinet will also be in town this week. Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will be at Florida International University Thursday for a conference on Central American policy.

Trump will head to Miami Friday to reveal his new plans to roll back Barack Obama's Cuba policy. He hasn't revealed the details just yet, but the Miami Herald reports he will speak at Manuel Artime Theater, a Little Havana venue named for an exiled leader of Brigade 2506.

Protesters say they plan to crash both Pence's FIU affair and Trump's downtown speech.

"We have made historic steps forward under the Obama administration regarding our relationship with Cuba, and we reject any attempt to turn back the clock," says Tomas Kennedy, deputy political director at the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

The People's Progressive Caucus of Miami-Dade and Students for a Democratic Society's FIU chapter are rallying demonstrators to protest Thursday at Pence's appearance at the university. The vice president and cabinet members will appear at a conference put on by U.S. Southern Command to discuss U.S. policy across Central America.

More than 700 people have signed up for a Facebook group promoting that protest, which promises to "show solidarity with vulnerable, immigrant communities and against the neo-imperialist military industrial complex that FIU is choosing to prioritize over the safety of its students and the community."

Adds Kennedy, "(Pence) is going to a conference regarding economic prosperity in Central America and since Kelly will be there, we want to highlight the contributions that (temporary protected status) recipients from El Salvador, Honduras and ... Haiti give to the United States."

Miami-Dade's progressive caucus is also organizing Friday's protest, which so far has drawn about 400 interested people on Facebook.

Trump has yet to reveal exactly what he'll do about Obama's détente with Cuba; in fact, he might not have made up his mind just yet. Despite ample conspiracy theories that Sen. Marco Rubio promised to go soft on Trump at the James Comey hearings in exchange for a harsh new crackdown on trade and travel with Cuba, the White House told the Herald yesterday that Trump hasn't signed off on any final recommendations yet.

But it's likely Trump will clamp down on trade between U.S. companies and Cubans and possibly limit U.S. travelers; he's not expected to change Obama's move to cancel the "wet foot, dry foot" policy that once gave Cuban immigrants a quick path to U.S. citizenship.

"Basically we just want to show Trump that he and his agenda are not welcome in Miami," Kennedy says.

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