Understanding What Makes the Latino Trump Supporter Tick

Latino GOP Trump

According to Trump, the percentage of Hispanics that support him is on the rise. This statement has led many people to wonder what the Hispanic vote will look like in the next presidential election. It might be helpful to take a look at some of the takeaways garnered from Latino voting behavior during the 2018 midterm elections.

Latino people as a whole come from a variety of geographic regions. When you look at a map, Latino people are born on two of the six inhabitable continents on earth. Additionally, Latino people are born in 35 – 33 countries with their own governing bodies not directly dependent on the United States; and two that are Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — individual countries across Central and South America and the Caribbean. This does not include the 17.5 million born within the United States.

Each of the 35 Latino countries have a history unique to themselves. In short, Latinos are a huge demographic and population of people that come from a third of the earth’s inhabitable land and the population of Latinos in the United States is also on the rise.

The increase of the Latino population is arguably leading to an increase of Latinos supporting Trump as a politician.

It is vitally important to remember what video producer and cultural commentator Kat Lazo taught people in her viral “What’s the Difference Between Latino, Hispanic, and Spanish” video: that Latino and Hispanic should and can not be used interchangeably. With this is mind it is difficult to clearly pinpoint or know who and how people are self-reporting in the polls that state Latino support for Trump might be on the rise.

Trump Latino Vote Belatina
Latinos are the fastest growing segment of the electorate; close to 1 million Latinos reach voting age every year. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC) 2016 San Diego

According to a 2018 Presidential Election exit poll, roughly 28% of Latino voters voted for Trump. Of those 69% of Latinos voted Democratic; 29% voted Republican; and 2% gave no answer. 

There have been several interviews of Trump supporters and Latino Trump supporters to try to understand and give voice to why some of these people might have voted for Trump. Some of these interviews tend to land on the reasons people voted for Trump being solely about “economic anxiety” or being single-issue voters on issues like abortion and or immigration. However, many of these interviews lack nuance or often skirt around the fact that white supremacy, racism, and Trump’s vocal support and appreciation for known white supremacists may have played a role in why anyone voted for Trump.

Racism, Stereotypes, and Immigration

The now famous (and racist) 2015 quote from Trump stating that Mexico sends “drug dealers, criminals, and rapists” to the United States really riled up his base of voters – including Latino voters. Although these claims were debunked and proven to be false with studies that showed that U.S. born Americans commit more rapes and murders than immigrants, Trump doubled down on his (racist) comments, insisting that he “did not have a racist bone in his body,” and went on to win the presidential election.

While immigration has become narrowly synonymous with Hispanics and Latinos, the truth is the immigrant community is comprised of numerous nations around the world. In 2017 only 44% of U.S. immigrants reported having Hispanic or Latinos origins. However, Trump’s 2015 comments were solely focused on people from Mexico. Many Republican voters were thrilled to hear someone speak in a way that fed into their false ideas about immigrants from Mexico being synonymous with criminal activity.

Trump’s anti-immigrant sentiments were not only reserved for Mexican immigrants. Under his direction, the United States government has instituted a travel ban for Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen –all of these countries have high Muslim populations. People from these countries applying for immigrants visas are also facing higher rates of denial because of the travel ban.

In addition to his inflammatory inaccurate comments and travel ban, the Trump administration has doubled wait times for legal citizens and limiting the number of Citizenship for legal immigrants.

For Latinos who immigrated to the United States and support Donald Trump, immigration is something they feel passionate about. When it comes to immigration, Latino Trump supporters seem to agree on the need to reform the current immigration process, enforce current laws about immigration, and penalize people who come into The United States without “waiting in line” — aka going through the lengthy, expensive, and sometimes arbitrary legal channels to do so.

The idea that there is a line to enter the United States is laughable especially when President Trump’s own current parent-in-laws were miraculously granted U.S. Citizenship two years after Trump won the election. Pop star and serial lawbreaker Justin Bieber, for example, is a United States Green Card Holder and has applied for dual United States and Canadian citizenship.

While some Trump Supporters are worried about immigrant’s people waiting their turn in line to enter the United States, it seems people with affluence are able to not even bother with a line.

Some immigrants who support Trump or Hispanics and Latinos from mixed immigration households (meaning some family members are documented citizens and or residents and some are not) will often refer to immigrating here legally and how others should do that to as to ‘not cut the line.’ These comments seem to forget that immigration laws have increased, assessment tests have become increasingly difficult to the point where many people who receive United States public school education cannot pass, and the process has become more expensive. Citing laws that existed over 20 plus years ago as the standard on how people can and or should immigrate to The United States today is at best shortsighted.

While Latino Trump Supporters focus on an imaginary immigration wait-line that is marred with ambiguity, travel bans, and high financial and emotional cost they might want to focus their attention on the very real long wait lines for voting in just about any election in the United States.

The bottom line is that Trump’s racist remarks helped earn him votes, including Latino votes. Sadly, Latinos are not exempt from ascribing and believing in white supremacy and anti-Black sentiments.

Abortion and Trump

Another issue that Latino Trump supporters cite as a reason for voting for him is his stance on abortion. The misconception that Latinos are more anti-abortion because of the Catholic religious beliefs is false. In 2011, Lake Research Partners released a report on how Latinos view abortion, legal abortion rights, and access to abortion. Their research found that 74% of registered Latino voters agree that a women has a right to make her own personal, private decisions about abortion without the interference of politicians. 67% of Latino voters say they would support a loved one that had an abortion; 43% say they would provide a lot of support; and less than a fourth — 23% — say they would not feel comfortable offering support.

Catholics for Choice reports that 62% of American voters disapprove of how Trump is handling the abortion issue and this distrust of him led some ‘pro-life’ voters to vote for Hilary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Furthermore, being “pro-life” shouldn’t be limited to whether or not people that are pregnant should or should not have access to safe, affordable, and timely abortion – it should apply to all living beings.

And while the Conservative Political Action Conference lauded Trump as the ‘most pro-life President’ they should consider his war crimes, crimes against immigrant’s seeking asylum; and calling for his supporters to attack, harm, hurt, and sometimes ‘do what they have to’ to people that disagree with his rhetoric.   

To be clear, people are free to vote as they see fit, including Latino Trump supporters. However, people should at least be honest with the fact that they are okay with voting for a person who has a multi decade history of racism, believes that the ethnicity of a person makes them inherently violent or a criminal, and has ties to known white supremacists.

Latinos are a diverse group of people with varying views, histories, and beliefs, so there should be no expectation that Latinos would just be Democrats or vote for Democrats especially given the war crimes that have happened under both Republican and Democratic administrations. However, Latinos that are Republicans also have the option to dissent from their political party like known Latina Republican Ana Navarro has.

Navarro has been very vocal that Trump’s beliefs, words, and actions are violent. She is a Republican Latina but she also seems to understand that Trump is not the type of person she wants to represent the political party she’s affiliated with or represent the United States of America.

Republican Latino Trump supporters agree with Trump, that’s why they voted for him and continue to support him. They don’t necessarily support him in spite of his racism and elusive anti-abortion stances, perhaps they support him because of it.