In this election, Americans caught a glimpse of a rare bird, the likes of which they’ve never seen before and may never see again—if we’re lucky: Latinos for Trump.
You’ve seen these people on television, arguing—with straight faces—that not only would a Donald Trump presidency not be harmful to America’s largest minority, it might actually help improve their situation.
I’m sorry, I have to roll my eyes. What’s next? Chickens for Colonel Sanders? It’s tempting to be smug but I’m trying to resist. I don’t like it when Latinos attack other Latinos just to feel morally superior. I’d rather not call someone else the kinds of insulting names that I’ve been called. Besides, I don’t want to come across like those condescending white liberals who seem to believe that all Latinos have to think and act a certain way. I don’t play that game, and so I’m used to being insulted by my own kind. Like the Latino “fan” who recently posted this on Facebook: “Ruben Navarrette has built an entire career sh*tting on other Latinos.” This is how some people see me. And I’m fine with that. Latinos have to think for themselves. But there are limits.
When any of these Latinos for Trump are invited to go before a radio microphone or television camera, they praise the leadership skills of “Mr. Trump,” as they call him.
More eye rolling. Whenever I hear a Latino refer to this unrepentant racial demagogue as “Mr. Trump,” I can’t decide whether it sounds more like a subservient sombrero-wearing Mexican in a Clint Eastwood western, or Kevin Bacon in Animal House being swatted during a fraternity initiation and responding: “Thank you, Sir. May I have another?”
I’ve been studying Latinos for Trump, and I’ve decided they fall into one of three groups: the operatives, the opportunists, and the optimistic.
The operatives include Cuban-Americans Alex Castellanos, an adviser to a pro-Trump PAC, and A.J. Delgado, a conservative commentator who is often introduced as a “surrogate” for the Trump campaign. These people are loyal to the Republican Party, and they would probably support the GOP nominee no matter who it was. In fact, earlier this year, Castellanos was described in stories as a “Never Trump” Republican.
The opportunists include Latinos for Trump founder Marco Gutierrez—a Mexican immigrant and former mortgage broker—who cooked up some controversy recently when, during an interview, he predicted that, unless Trump was elected, American cities would have “taco trucks on every corner.” During another appearance, he called Latinos a “primitive and underdeveloped culture” that will “take whatever we can take if you let us.”
And the optimistic include people like Jacob Monty, a third-generation Mexican-American attorney from Houston who distanced himself from the Trump campaign in August after it became clear that the nominee wasn’t going to soften his immigration position, and Steve Cortes, a Colombian-American who runs a Chicago-based research/consulting firm and has a knack for spinning yarns intended to make Trump look warm and cuddly.
I appeared with Cortes on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor, where he failed Immigration 101, insisting that “amnesty” meant giving the undocumented citizenship (which he opposed) and not merely legal status (which he supports).
Not so. To many conservatives, I pointed out, including many who are supporting Trump, “amnesty” is simply anything that allows an illegal immigrant to remain in this country. Period.
Add it all up, and you’ll see that Latinos for the Trump is an odd assortment of charlatans, clowns and hucksters.
Where did the billionaire find this motley crew? Trump’s circle of close personal acquaintances, from the looks of it, doesn’t include many Latinos.
Granted, that alone doesn’t disqualify you from being president. In fact, you could say the same thing about two former presidents who each served two terms: Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, each of whom grew up and lived in a black-and-white world before ascending to the Oval Office. As evidence of just how out of touch Trump is with Latinos, when he convened his National Hispanic Advisory Council at Trump Tower in August—to set the stage for what was supposed to be some major pivot on immigration that wound up instead being a double-doubling down on his “round ’em up and deport ’em” enforcement strategy—the folks around the table included a few who worked for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign. Trump literally had to import Latino supporters from another Republican nominee, and one who has been extremely critical of him at that.
Trump is still poised for a major wipe out with Latino voters, given that about 80 percent of them have a negative opinion of him. So Trump will probably get around 20 percent of the Latino vote, maybe a little more if he doesn’t insult us over the next five weeks. But whatever votes he does get, none of them will be attributable to Latinos for Trump, who are outliers in their own community for hitching their wagon to a candidate who—as far as many Latinos are concerned—has no redeeming quality. Indeed, Trump has been cynically and maliciously running roughshod over Latinos for his own political benefit since he first announced his candidacy last June by declaring of Mexican immigrants: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
The real estate mogul was just warming up. During the rest of the campaign, Trump cozied up to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose department was recently found guilty by a federal judge of racially profiling Latinos and defying court orders to hand over evidence. He outsourced the crafting of his immigration policy to Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who supports limiting even legal immigration. He vowed to create a “deportation force” and praised President Eisenhower for deporting more than 1 million illegal immigrants in 1954 as part of “Operation Wetback.” He promised to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Obama’s executive action to allow undocumented youth to remain in the United States with temporary work permits. He challenged a provision of the Constitution that says that the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants—what Trump called “anchor babies”—are U.S. citizens. And he challenged the fairness of U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in the United States but who is of Mexican descent, in adjudicating a lawsuit against Trump University because—as Trump said of Curiel—“he’s a Mexican.”
No self-respecting Latino could support such a person, unless they were doing so not because of policy or principles, but for their own self-interest. And for many Latinos for Trump, that seems to be the idea.
For this, these people deserve to have their names remembered and their reputations ruined.
What was that Mexican proverb that Clinton seized upon a while back? “Dime con quien andas y the dire quien eres.” Tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who are.
Latinos for Trump are walking down a dark road indeed, and we know exactly who—and what—they are.