Waldane Watkins and Tom Thompson show Chemistry teacher (obscured) Sam Wolpert the different reactions they studied for their science project last Thursday, March 16. The annual Chelsea High School (CHS) Science Fair took place in the school gym with scores of projects on display and judges looking over them and choosing the winners.

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Sledgehammer:Senator Markey uses Chelsea as a Platform against Trump Federal Budget

Sledgehammer:Senator Markey uses Chelsea as a Platform against Trump Federal Budget

By Seth Daniel

DeU. S. Sen. Ed Markey appeared at the Chelsea Collaborative on Friday, March 17, for a press conference to excoriate the new budget from President Donald Trump. He said it will hurt the poor and benefit the rich.

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey appeared at the Chelsea Collaborative on Friday, March 17, for a press conference to excoriate the new budget from President Donald Trump. He said it will hurt the poor and benefit the rich.

Standing at a podium at the front of the planning office in the Chelsea Collaborative last Friday, March 17, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey held up a copy of the ‘America First’ federal budget presented from President Donald Trump and said it was a sledgehammer to the heart of Massachusetts.

President Trump released his initial federal budget last week, dubbing it ‘America First: A Blueprint for How to Make American Great Again’ The budget features prominent increases to the Defense Department, Homeland Security and seed money to being designing and building the wall on the southern border. It also features tax cuts for the highest earners, a staple of similar Republican economic plans from the past where tax cuts are believed to trickle down through the economy.

“Donald Trump released a very dangerous federal budget which contradicts every single core value of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He goes right to the heart of this belief we have in our state that we can have capitalism, but capitalism with a conscience,” said Markey. “We understand there has to be a real commitment to ensuring we provide an economy where there are jobs for everyone…Even with that, there are programs that have to be in place to create a ladder of opportunity and protection for every single family. That’s where the Trump budget goes off track. If you kicked the Trump budget in the heart, it would break your toe. It is harshest on the poor, harshest on the innovation of programs at the heart of the growth of our country – and it is so while seeking to provide tax breaks for the wealthiest among us.”

Markey outlined several of the cuts that he found to be troubling, including cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent, cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 13 percent, cuts to Health and Human Services by 16 percent, an 18 percent cut in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget and the Department of Transportation by 13 percent, the Labor Department by 20 percent and the the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities being eliminated

“What it really is, is put millionaires and billionaires first and everyone else in our country last,” he said. “That is what the Trump budget is. In program after program, what we see is dramatic cuts in programs we see. Home heating aid for people in Chelsea and all across the state of Massachusetts is eliminated. We are here on freezing days in Massachusetts where the poor need help with their heating and that program will now be eliminated under the Trump budget.”

He said there will be a strategy for trying to block such cuts to programs like the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is a critical program for the poor in Chelsea and administered by CAPIC on Crescent Avenue.

“In the Senate we have 48 members and we have the ability to find a relatively small number of Republicans in order to block any of these cuts, and so that’s going to be what we try to do,” he said. “We have to say on low income heating assistance to the Republicans from all across the country who represent the coldest states, we need your help to preserve that program.”

Other programs that could be affected in Chelsea by the new federal budget are:

  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Low Income Legal Representation
  • Federal money for home weatherization
  • AmeriCorps

Markey was challenged by reporters on some of the cuts he detailed, including the Meals on Wheels program, which gets only a very small percentage of its funding from the federal government. Most of its funding comes from federal programs that weren’t cut, or from private foundations and donations. It was estimated that the Meals on Wheels cut was only around 3 or 4 percent.

“The foundation money each one of these programs each of these programs depends upon is what these programs depend on,” he responded. “When you talk about the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or Meals on Wheels, and other programs, that’s the predictable money and the guaranteed money to make sure they can hire personnel and staff to make sure that year after year they can continue the program.”

Markey also talked about concerns to cuts in education, particularly cutting Title 1 traditional public school funding in order to re-route that money to Charter Schools and Voucher programs.

Chelsea Supt. Mary Bourque said it is still uncertain what the Trump budget will mean for Chelsea’s $11 million in federal grants. However, she said there is concern that government might have lost its moral compass.

“It’s shifting money from Title 1 and our ability to serve low-income students,” she said. “We are now taking steps backwards to shift that money to privatization. We believe firmly that we are in an era of dismantling public education…Other things being cut are Title 2A, which is our professional development. That’s been eliminated and 21st Century Learning Communities have been eliminated. Other programs eliminated in this budget are Striving Readers, Teacher Quality Partnerships, Impact Days and all these things. We have the skinny budget now, so we don’t know exactly how this will affect us. We know we get approximately $11 million in federal grants and so in these budget times, missing $1 is a hit to a child in our school. Our budgets are so tight at the City level, state level and now the federal level. What I would ask is have we started to lose our moral compass?”

Markey vowed to fight against the budget as best as he can, noting that it targets Massachusetts industries and the poor the hardest.

“What Trump has done is take a sledgehammer to the center of the Massachusetts business plan and take a meat cleaver to the programs that help the poorest in our state,” he said. “I and our delegation is going to fight every single day to stop this Trump budget from ever seeing the light of day. We are going to use every single tool we have to block this from ever becoming the law of our country because we in Massachusetts have to be the leaders. We have to show that millionaires and billionaires cannot be first and everyone else last in the budget of our country. The budget is all the hopes and all the dreams for every person in our country.”

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Bringing Physical Therapy to the Neighborhood:Antzak, Regan Open EMA Physical Therapy and Wellness Center

Bringing Physical Therapy to the Neighborhood:Antzak, Regan Open EMA Physical Therapy and Wellness Center

By Cary Shuman

The brand new and spacious physical therapy area at the EMA Physical Therapy and Wellness Center located at 449 Eastern Ave.

The brand new and spacious physical therapy area at the EMA Physical Therapy and Wellness Center located at 449 Eastern Ave.

Charlie Antzak and Bill Regan have brought a new business to the surging Mill Hill Neighborhood, one that is drawing positive reactions from neighbors, not only for its health and therapeutic services but for its welcoming and soothing interior design.

The two business partners have opened EMA Physical Therapy and Wellness Center at 449 Eastern Ave.

 The name  Antzak is very familiar to Chelsea residents. The late Charles J. Antzak Sr., Charlie’s father, was the well-known and highly respected plumbing and gas inspector for the city of Chelsea for 50 years. He also served as the city’s building inspector.

The center is named after Charlie’s 92-year-old mother, Edith May (Keating) Antzak, whose brother, the late Thomas Keating Sr., served in the Chelsea Police Department.

Both men take great pride in the center’s décor. There are tones of turquoise, olive, and green.

“We’ve created a spa-like environment with a calming, soothing effect,” said Antzak

What inspired Antzak and Regan to open the center?

“We became interested in the health care business because of my father’s health issues and my mother’s ongoing therapy,” said Antzak. “We feel that everybody can use some of kind therapy when it comes to anything – for example, just to help someone sleep at night. This was something we were always interested in and this was an opportunity that just came out of the blue and we’re here.”

Regan knows first hand the importance of physical therapy and its impact on a person’s rehabilitation after surgery. He had valve replacement and heart bypass surgery last year.

“When I saw what physical therapists do and how they do it and how helpful they are to a person’s recovery, I was so impressed and so appreciative of their skills,” related Regan.

EMA has brought on board certified physical therapist Peter Raftopoulos who has worked in the field of physical therapy for 20 years. Gloria Pagan, sister of former Chelsea High 1,000-point scorer and Chelsea firefighter Ralph Pagan and a healthcare professional for many years, is the office manager.

The center specializes in a number of areas: pre-surgical strengthening, post-surgical therapies, sports injuries, balance disorders walking/gait disorders, geriatric, stroke, back and neck pain, TMJ therapy, and massage therapy.

“Many doctors send their patients to therapists for pre-surgical strengthening so they can handle the surgery,” said

Antzak and Regan confer often with a patient’s physician to discuss the best courses of treatment.

“They’re very hands-on owners,” praises Pagan, a noted patient advocate. Each patient is made to feel comfortable in all phases of the therapeutic process.”

Antzak said that personal touch is important to him and Regan.

“The center is dedicated to both my mother and my dad,” he said. “I feel very strongly about the services we provide and that we’re doing a wonderful thing for people. We also have great people around us in Peter and Gloria. I want our patients to know that we care greatly about their health and well-being.”

“You have to make people feel relaxed and look forward to seeing you,” adds Regan. “We wanted this center to be closer to the people and have a neighborhood approach.”

The spacious center has treadmills, elliptical bicycles, hydroculators (for moist therapy), EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulator) machines, and ice packs.

The co-owners are excited about their new endeavor and the reception from Chelsea residents. They  say they’re committed to providing professional excellence for all patients by delivering, high quality, low impact procedures and training to optimize their recovery.

“I’m really excited about the center,” said Antzak. “We’ve tried to make our center spacious and welcoming. We intend to hold specialized classes in yoga, stretching, and barre. We are also going to have a line of products (Isagenix) available at the center.” They are consultants specializing in wellness solutions, including weight loss, healthy aging, energy, and performance.

 Regan said EMA will be starting a walking club in the neighborhood. “Walking really does build up your cardiovascular system.”

 There is a mutual respect and warmth among the EMA administration and staff.

“Gloria is a star,” said Antzak. “She is so caring. The four of us together are a good team and we work well together.”

“Gloria is just a wonderful person who is very detail oriented,” said Regan. “I’m amazed at her knowledge and how much she cares about the patients and how far she’ll go to assist them.”

Pagan says she’s grateful to the two men for being such a positive, uplifting influence in her life, now giving her a platform in which she can help people and lift them up.

The EMA Physical Therapy and Wellness Center is open three days (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) a week, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Special appointments are available on other days. All forms of insurance are accepted.

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Homewood Suites Opens

Homewood Suites by Hilton, part of Hilton’s All Suites portfolio, announced its newest property, Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston Logan Airport Chelsea, opened on Wednesday, March 15.

Designed for guests who want to travel on their own terms, Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston Logan Airport Chelsea offers guests all the comforts of home, whether they are traveling for work or enjoying a well-earned getaway. The new 152-suite hotel is located three miles from the airport and just a bridge away from Boston and the City of Cambridge, and complements the region’s growing need for lodging with occupancy rates at a new high of 81.6 percent over the last several years.

“With over 18 million visitors a year, Boston and its surrounding areas are a major travel destination for both domestic and international visitors,” said Adrian Kurre, global head of Homewood Suites. “Between the property’s spacious suites and convenient location, Boston Logan Airport Chelsea accommodates all types of travelers, and with the area’s growing need for more hotels, it only made sense to expand our brand with a seventh Homewood Suites for guests visiting the Boston area.”

Developed and owned by XSS Hotels and managed by Colwen Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston Logan Airport Chelsea offers a combination of studio and one bedroom accommodations, featuring fully-equipped kitchens and separate living and sleeping areas. Guests are provided all the essentials needed for a smart and convenient stay including complimentary daily full hot breakfast, evening social Monday-Thursday, Wi-Fi and a grocery shopping service. Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston Logan Airport Chelsea makes it easy for travelers to unwind with an indoor heated saltwater pool and state-of-the-art fitness center. The property is unique in that it also offers 2,200 square feet of flexible meeting space that can accommodate more than 200 guests, perfect for corporate functions and/or social events.

Located at 145 Beech St., Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston Logan Airport Chelsea offers guests convenient access to Logan International Airport, Boston Convention & Exposition Center, downtown Boston and the City of Cambridge.  Complimentary parking as well as shuttle service to and from the airport and to the T, Boston’s public transportation system, is available to all guests.

Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston Logan Airport Chelsea participates in Hilton’s award-winning customer loyalty program, Hilton Honors. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount, free standard Wi-Fi, as well as digital amenities that are available exclusively through the industry-leading Hilton Honors app, where Honors members can check-in, choose their room, and access their room using a Digital Key. For more information or to make a reservation, visit Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston Logan Airport Chelsea or call 617-660-9110.

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Puerto Rican Governor Warns of Influx to U.S., Likely Many to Chelsea

By Seth Daniel

The governor of Puerto Rico has drafted a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker warning that an approaching “cliff” in federal Medicaid funding on the island under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could send thousands of migrants from Puerto Rico in the coming months, with likely many of them going to Chelsea.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello has called on Gov. Baker to advocate for the Congressional delegation to more adequately fund health care in Puerto Rico, especially with the ACA now being re-tooled in Congress. He said in a climate where the island’s government is already under extreme financial difficulties, the fallout from a mass migration to Massachusetts could be costly to both locales.

“If this issue isn not addressed by Congress in the very near future, the fallout will be felt not only in Puerto Rico, but also in the states, because the already high rate of migration of U.S. Citizens moving from Puerto Rico to the states will likely increase significantly, affecting Massachusetts in particular,” he wrote.

Statistics from Gov. Rossello showed that between 2006 and 2016, some 440,000 residents of Puerto Rico – who have full U.S. Citizenship – moved to the U.S. mainland. Between 2010 and 2015, some 25,000 new residents from Puerto Rico arrived in Massachusetts. Many of those new residents have shown up in Chelsea, particularly noted within the Chelsea Public Schools amidst the immigration of new students from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

The ¨Medicaid cliff¨ is a scenario caused by funding shortfalls built in to the unique healthcare funding mechanisms for Puerto Rico. If realized, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans, all natural born citizens of the United States, will likely continue to relocate to Massachusetts to qualify for Medicaid, costing Massachusetts taxpayers $1.3 billion over the coming decade.

The letter to Gov. Baker estimated that in their projections, the state would have to come up with $2.6 billion to serve Puerto Ricans migrating to the state for Medicaid reasons. Of that, only $1.3 billion would come from the federal government. The rest would come from state taxpayers.

“If Congress allows this Medicaid ‘cliff’ to take effect, these numbers will only increase further as the rate of migration from the island to the states inevitably grows,” he wrote. “I’m reaching out to ask for your help in activating Massachusetts’s Congressional delegation as a voice of reason in Congress on this issue which is entirely avoidable. Moreover, Congress has a perfect opportunity to deal with this as it works to approve legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”

The Governor’s Office in Puerto Rico said it sent similar letters to the governors of Florida, Connecticut, Ohio, New Jersey, Georgia, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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Chelsea Seeks Applicants for Youth Commission

The City of Chelsea is accepting applications for its reestablished Youth Commission. Members of the Youth Commission will advise and assist the City Council, the School Committee, and the City Manager in the development of policies, programs, and delivery of services for the health and welfare of Chelsea’s youth and their families.

 The Youth Commission is comprised of eleven members each being appointed to the position for a one-year term.  Interested applicants must be Chelsea residents between the ages of 13 and 20 and currently enrolled in high school.  Members will be appointed by City Manager Tom Ambrosino with the approval of the City Council.

 Ideal members of the Youth Commission have a solution focused attitude and are passionate about making an impact on their community. Members will meet one Monday evening per month and attend additional meetings as needed. Youth interested in being considered for the Commission need to fully commit to making a difference in our community.

 Applications are available at the Recreation & Cultural Affairs Division, Health and Human Services Department at Chelsea City Hall, 500 Broadway, Rm 100, Chelsea, MA 02150. To obtain an application please contact Salma Taylor at (617) 466-4073 or Applications may be submitted via email, mail, or in person.  The application deadline is 4pm on Thursday, April 6, 2017.

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Baker-Polito Administration Awards Funding to Combat Gang Violence

The Baker-Polito Administration this week announced the release of $5.7 million in competitive grants to cities and towns across Massachusetts who, with their local community partners, will use the funding to combat gang violence and support local at-risk youth.

Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Quincy, Revere, Somerville and Winthrop will receive a collective $335,735 under the program — the Shannon Community Safety Initiative, or “Shannon Grant” — which targets gang violence in Massachusetts.

The grants provide funding to communities that demonstrate high levels of youth violence and gang activity, and who have a comprehensive plan to work with multi-disciplinary partners and a commitment to coordinated prevention and intervention strategies. Those strategies include social interventions, opportunity programs, time and personnel for gang task forces, and more.

“We are thrilled to continue working in collaboration with law enforcement and community groups to support at-risk youth in the Metro Mayors communities,” said Marc Draisen, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, which staffs the Metro Mayors Coalition (MMC), a group of 14 cities and towns who collaborate in addressing common issues confronting urban core governments.

MAPC manages the grant for the MMC communities of Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, and Winthrop.

Please see below for a comprehensive list of all the cities and organizations that will receive funding under this year’s Shannon Grant allocation.



Cambridge Police Department: Metro Gang Task Force/Hot Spot Patrols

Community Art Center (Cambridge): Late Night Basketball

Cambridge Youth Programs/City of Cambridge: City Peace


Chelsea Police Department: Dedicated Gang Officer

City of Chelsea/Jordan Boys & Girls Club: Teen Program

Roca, Inc. (Chelsea): Transitional/Youth Employment


Revere Police Department: Metro Gang Task Force/Hot Spot Patrols

Community Action Programs Inter-City/Revere Police Athletics League: PAL Programs


Winthrop Police Department: Metro Gang Task Force/Hot Spot Patrols

Community Against Substance Abuse (CASA)/Winthrop: Youth Advisory Board


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Police Briefs 03-23-2017


Chelsea Police have arrested Jorge Beltran, 18, of Chelsea for Impersonating a Police Officer, Kidnapping and Robbery charges on Monday, March 20. It is believed that Beltran broke into several cars in Everett near the Chelsea line including a Chelsea police captain’s vehicle over the weekend. Several police items were reported missing from the officer’s car, including a police badge and radio.

On Sunday evening, March 19, at approximately 7:20 p.m, a Chelsea resident came into the police station and reported that he was robbed by a male that identified himself as police officer and who displayed a badge. The victim stated he was  escorted to a  basement of a multifamily home and robbed of his phone and money.

Chelsea investigators were able to obtain video images of Beltran and the victim walking together from city surveillance cameras. At 8:44 a.m. on March 20, two alert Chelsea Officers recognized Beltran from the images they had seen and placed him under arrest and recovered the stolen police badge, police radio and other evidence believed to be linked to other Everett vehicle breaks.

Chelsea and Everett detectives are  working together in this on-going investigation.


An Everett man was arraigned last week on charges he was driving drunk when he struck and killed 25-year-old Marco Salguero-Cruz in Chelsea last summer and then fled the scene and the country.

Jose Daniel Arevalo, 34, was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on charges of motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of an accident causing death in connection with the June 4, 2016, hit-and-run crash that claimed Salguero-Cruz’s life. At the request of Assistant District Attorney Michael Glennon, Clerk Magistrate Edward Curley set bail at $150,000 and ordered Arevalo to submit to GPS monitoring, home confinement, and surrender his passport in the event he is to be released on bail.  Arevalo has remained in custody since he was arrested in Dallas, Texas, on Dec. 1.

According to prosecutors, Salguero-Cruz was struck by a silver Toyota Camry on the night of June 4, 2016, in the area of Washington Street in Chelsea.  He died of his injuries at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the operator of the car fled the scene.

State Police detectives assigned to Conley’s office and Chelsea Police detectives recovered images from cameras in the area that captured the vehicle’s path of travel as it exited the parking lot of a Washington Street bar at a high rate of speed, and later as it fled from the area of the crash.  Images captured prior to the crash depict the vehicle with two functioning headlights; footage captured immediately after the crash shows the vehicle with only one headlight working.

With the assistance of Conley’s Forensic Multimedia Lab and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Digital Evidence Lab, previously-deleted footage from a private security camera was recovered and enhanced.  The resulting images depicting the driver allegedly involved in the crash were then released to the media and the public in November, and a person familiar with Arevalo contacted investigators after recognizing him in the images.  Investigators were also able to independently identify Arevalo through witness statements, social media, and Registry of Motor Vehicles records, prosecutors said.

Additional footage depicted Arevalo inside the Washington Street bar consuming four beers and six shots in approximately 2.5 hours leading up to the fatal crash, prosecutors said.

Arevalo allegedly fled to El Salvador two days after the crash but later returned to the United States and was taken into custody in Texas by Texas Rangers acting on a Massachusetts warrant obtained by Chelsea and State police.

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A Hard Life Under the Bridge: Death Could Bring Change

By Seth Daniel

Benjamin Estrada felt the Blizzard coming on last week, but after shoveling snow, he huddled up in some blankets under the Mystic/Tobin Bridge as he has done for years with a group of mostly Hispanic men that live on and off under the Bridge in the elements.

It was his last night under the Tobin, though.

By morning, Estrada was found by Chelsea Police, frozen to death where he lay.

The sad news has upset a lot of providers and homeless people in the City, with many wishing more could have been done for Estrada on that night, though he often refused help. It has brought the long-time homelessness problem in Chelsea under a larger microscope than it was already under, and caused a great deal of thinking to go on around what services the City should offer, and how to make those living outside take advantage of those services – even when they don’t want to.

Many said this week that Estrada was well-known throughout the City and had lived under the Bridge for years, but often would not go into a shelter when it was cold. Even when forced inside, he sometimes would later disappear.

Pastor Ruben Rodriguez, who has had a long-time ministry to the homeless and drug addicted in Chelsea, said Estrada was found on the morning of March 15.

“It’s very sad,” said Rodriguez. “He was an alcoholic. He had just got done shoveling and went to sit down and fell asleep and froze to death.”

Estrada, sadly, is not the first homeless man in recent years to freeze to death.

About three years ago, Jose Alvarez froze to death on Cherry Street, with little fanfare.

Rodriguez said he found another man during the last cold snap earlier this winter in the same spot where Estrada perished, his hands and feet frozen.

The big problem up for debate right now in the wake of Estrada’s death is how to reach those who won’t take help – even in situations where conditions are treacherous.

Dan Cortez, of the Chelsea Police community outreach, handles a lot of the outreach to the homeless through the Hub/Cor program. That program identifies potential problems and seeks to solve them before they boil over.

He said an amazing thing that has taken place is that many of the men who spent time under the Bridge with Estrada have been shaken enough that they are seeking help, where before they wouldn’t.

“Sometimes people in these conditions fade away and we’re trying to not let that happen with Benjamin,” he said. “We want to seize on this momentum and get people help. We are all really, really upset, but we’re going to try to honor his life by helping others.”

He said there is a program in Worcester that began under similar circumstances when a homeless man died in the cold some years ago.

There, they were able to rally the community to establish a home, a culinary school and job training.

“That’s what we want to do here,” he said.

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Hispanics Shouldn’t Over-Interpret Trump’s Election

By Gus West

It’s safe to say that Donald Trump doesn’t have many fans in the Hispanic community.

The real estate mogul rose to power spewing rhetoric that was openly hostile to Latinos. He’s promised to deport more undocumented immigrants and build a wall along the nation’s southern border. And who can forget his smear of Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists?”

But Hispanics shouldn’t take Trump’s election as a personal affront — or a signal that they’re unwelcome in their own land. In fact, polling data show the United States remains far more united in its commitment to tolerance, diversity, and fair immigration policy than at any time in our history.

Those who value these principles can’t afford to be distracted by their private contempt for Trump. Now is the time for sober, loyal opposition focused on the legitimate policy threats posed by an erratic president.

That process starts with the recognition that Trump’s divisive tenor, particularly on immigration issues, isn’t representative of the nation at large. After all, his share of the popular vote was nearly 3 million short of his opponent Hillary Clinton’s. The “rigged system” that Trump spent much of the campaign decrying is what installed him in the White House.

If anything, Trump’s brand of hateful fear-mongering has helped unify Americans against his most extreme views. A majority opposes Trump’s plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

His commitment to mass deportation is no more popular. According to a new Gallup poll, more Americans are satisfied with current immigration levels than at any time since the organization began monitoring the issue. A separate survey finds support for offering a “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants has hit a new high of 60 percent.

In other words, Trump was elected despite his attitudes towards Hispanics — not because of them.

The economy played a more decisive role in the recent presidential election than immigration. In November’s exit polls, more than half of voters ranked the economy as the top national issue.

Trump claimed the votes of 78 percent of Americans who said they’d lost ground financially in recent years. They bought his argument that he could create the kinds of steady, middle-class jobs that have been missing from our economy since at least the Great Recession.

For Americans that feel left behind by current economic trends — including many blacks and Hispanics — Trump represented a break from the status quo. When asked which of Trump’s qualities mattered most to his voters, 82 percent pointed to his potential to “bring change.”

In return for that change, many of these voters were willing to overlook the president’s profound character flaws. Twenty percent of his voters disapproved of his temperament, according to the exit polls. The same share judged him dishonest and untrustworthy.

Latinos should refuse to be distracted by Trump’s rhetoric — and should train their critique on his policies and the threat he poses to the values and institutions on which our republic rests.

It’s essential that the Hispanic community — and all those who support the ideals of pluralism, equality, individual liberty, and the rule of law — commit to forcefully and vigilantly opposing the president whenever his policies violate these principles.

A “loyal opposition” is loyal to these constitutional principles, not to the occupant of the Oval Office. Hispanics must resist the temptation to latch onto every breach of civility and tasteless comment Trump generates — and reserve their energies for the genuine policy battles that lie ahead.

Gus West is president of the Hispanic Institute.

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