By Kate Linthicum, Richard Winton and Kurtis Lee
July 10, 2015

Donald Trump brought his Republican presidential campaign to Los Angeles on Friday, unrepentant over his inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants that have drawn national ire and pushback from businesses and fellow party members.

At a news conference in Beverly Hills, Trump appeared alongside several activists who have lost family members in crimes or traffic accidents involving immigrants in the country illegally.

“People came into the country illegally and killed their children,” Trump said. “The illegals come in and the illegals kill their children.”

Trump made the comments the day before he was scheduled to appear at a campaign rally in Phoenix with controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose anti-immigrant policies have made him a hero to those favoring stricter immigration enforcement. Saturday’s event is being moved to a larger location to accommodate more people, which Trump cited as proof that his message is resonating with voters.

“It’s this issue,” he said. “I must be doing something right.”

In the weeks since he called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and criminals in his campaign announcement speech, Trump has risen in the polls, with several now showing him among the top GOP candidates. But the backlash has also been fierce, with several major companies, including NBC Universal and Macy’s, cutting ties with Trump for fear of losing Latino customers.

Immigrant advocates in Los Angeles made their distaste for Trump clear with a large protest outside another event. Trump spoke to Friends of Abe, a group founded a decade ago by several conservative-leaning Hollywood actors, including Gary Sinise and Clint Eastwood.

About 150 protesters gathered outside the event, some toting “Dump Donald Trump” signs and others taking whacks at piñatas created in the business mogul’s image.

Joshua Gonzalez, a 21-year-old Calabasas resident holding a sign depicting Trump in a pink wig, said he came to send a message that Californians won’t put up with “his out-of-control antics.”

Gonzalez said Trump was hurting the Republican Party, which might otherwise appeal to conservative Latinos who believe in the importance of education and hard work.

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