Why Trump Is Earning Latino Support
One of the little-told stories of the 2016 election was Donald Trump’s 28 percent take of the Hispanic vote, besting Mitt Romney’s 2012 showing. We on Team Trump won’t throw parades for winning less than one-third of the Latino vote nationally, but lessened enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton among Hispanics represents a key reason, perhaps the primary reason, she was ultimately uncompetitive in Florida.
Why did Latino support for Trump massively outperform expectations? For one thing, millions of Hispanics rejected the relentless mainstream media narrative that Trump is an anti-Mexican racist. In addition, only U.S. citizens can vote, and according to an exit poll analysis by Zogby Analytics, twice as many Hispanic voters regarded immigration enforcement as too lax instead of too stringent.
In the final analysis, we Hispanics, whether native-born or naturalized, differ little from other Americans regarding dreams of better lives of prosperity and security. Speaking of dreams, despite constant fear-mongering from the left, the Trump administration last week made it official that it plans no changes to President Obama’s DACA policy regarding the 800,000 “DREAMers” who were brought here illegally, but as children.
I believe in keeping the status quo in this area and President Trump is striking a wise compromise on immigration. He’s placed America’s security first by accelerating the deportation of dangerous illegal aliens. These actions by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, combined with his clear-eyed rhetoric about serious enforcement, have already made the southern border more secure, even before constructing the famous wall. This crackdown also puts transnational criminal gangs like MS-13 on notice that their crimes – largely committed against Hispanics – won’t be tolerated.
Concurrently, the president shows empathy by allowing DACA residents to remain. Recognizing that the DACA-eligible were brought here as children and had no say in breaking our immigration laws, Trump has compassionately preserved part of the Obama administration policy, even though it’s highly unpopular among many in our conservative base. “I love kids,” the president said, “and I find it very hard doing what the laws says exactly to do—the law is very rough.”
Sadly, the president’s compromise received little credit from the dependably antagonistic mainstream press or from left-leaning Latino activists who’d rather grandstand against Trump than pursue real growth policies for Hispanic citizens. While I care about the fate of the DREAMers, I also care deeply about the dreams of native-born Americans and legal immigrants, particularly those of Hispanic heritage. Lately, the prosperity trajectory for Latinos disappoints, as the wealth gap vs. white households widened badly under the Obama administration after decades of narrowing.
Immigration remains a hallmark principle of America’s identity and vitality. Allowing our immigration system to continue to operate lawlessly and haphazardly represents not only bad economic and security policy, but also an affront to the millions of immigrants, like my father, who became Americans the right way.
The Trump administration agenda of rolling back regulations and taxes while enforcing sensible immigration rules will help lift wages for struggling middle-class workers, whether native-born or legal immigrants. The dream still lives in America; it’s only been dormant lately because of bad economic and border policy. Under Donald Trump’s leadership, the dream can reignite.
Trump believes that once he delivers upon his growth and security agenda, we are going to win the Hispanic vote in 2020—and for many elections to come. I believe he might be right.