As his poll numbers plunge, President Trump reaches out to the communities he has publicly maligned. But these Latino advocates believe the relationship is irretrievably broken.
Even before he was sworn in as president, Donald Trump had an adversarial relationship with Latinos in the U.S. Throughout his campaign, Trump called undocumented Mexican migrants “rapists and murderers” while promising to build a “big, beautiful” wall to keep all the “bad hombres” out of the America he vowed to make great again. Is the Trump-Latinos relationship irretrievably broken?
As the November general election approaches, and his poll numbers plunge dramatically, the president is putting time and campaign funds into efforts to boost his Latino base. On May 20, for example, he hosted a conference call from the Oval Office with representatives of the national Hispanic community, such as League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Small Business Administration — among others — CNN reports.
The president’s attempt to reach out to Latinos is particularly significant at this time, as according to a report by the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), the outcome of this year’s election could hinge on the president’s relationship with the Latino community in the U.S.
But “relationship” may be a word some find inappropriate when speaking of Latinos and the Trump administration.
“What We Have is Abuse”
“It is almost impossible to say Trump has a ‘relationship’ with Latino voters. A relationship implies connection and communication, and what we have from Trump is abuse,” Grecia Lima, Political Director of Community Change Action, a progressive community organizing group, told The Americano.
“We’ve experienced his abuse through the political persecution of our immigrant brothers and sisters, through the economic starvation of our small businesses, and the assault on our shared safety net. Younger Latinos, in particular, blame Trump for the mishandling of COVID-19 and the constant attacks on immigrants,” said Lima.
Ben Monterroso, Senior Adviser of Poder Latinx, a civic and social justice organization working to build political empowerment in the Latino community, agrees with this assessment.
“President Trump’s relationship with the Latino community is nonexistent. I don’t think [he] has ever been interested in having [one],” Monterroso told The Americano. “Trump has impacted our community in very negative ways. We are now recipients of more insults, racist remarks [and] racist attacks.”
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This, he believes, has mobilized the Latino communities into taking action, and recent poll numbers support this view. A March poll from the New York Times showed Trump with 29 percent support among Hispanics, versus Biden with 52 percent support from Latinos.
Additionally, a 2020 May poll by Equis Research showed that the disapproval rate for Trump on his handling of Coronavirus among Latinos reached 58% in Arizona, 50% in Florida and a whopping 65% in Virginia.
Latinos: A Diverse Group Not a Monolith
Yet, although the numbers seem to speak for themselves, the issue is not black and white. Due to national, racial and ethnic differences, Latinos are not a monolith and do not generally vote as a block. In fact, according to YouGuv polling data, at the beginning of June, Trump’s approval among Hispanic voters was at 42 percent – including 28 percent who strongly approved of the president.
“[This] is complicated. I don’t think that voters are looking at Trump as straight up support or opposed, but are evaluating this on the prism of economic prosperity, trust in government, and domestic and global security. What we can generalize is that the majority of our voters are not supporting Trump, with Latinas being even more disgruntled with him,” says Lima. In fact, the Equis Poll found that Latina women across the board are more supportive of a generic Democrat, and despite being seen as socially conservative in the past, they are aligned with progressive values on choice and immigration, among other issues.
A Broken “Relationship”
In general, support for Trump from the Latin community is down, William Renderos, Electoral Field and Data Manager for CASA, an organization that facilitates greater engagement of Latinos and voters of color in elections, told The Americano.
“We’ve talked to all registered Latinx voters in our region — Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, Pennsylvania being a battleground state. They are seeking new leadership, they are seeking leadership that will lead our communities fairly and not villainizes us.”
“Despite our demographic growth, we have been erased and pushed through the sidelines of decision making and governance,” says Lima, who calls the electoral process “a way to make an impact” for Latino communities across the US.
Monterroso agrees. “In 2016, a small percentage of the Latino community voted for [Trump], but I can tell you that in 2020 that percentage is going to be a lot less. In 2020 we are the largest minority with the right to vote, and we’re going to make that voice heard at the ballot box,” he predicts.
But according to Lima, this “is just the beginning, not the end of our engagement. We must hold candidates accountable at all levels of government for the urgent investment our communities need.”