Trump has silent ap­peal with work­ing His­pan­ics

Fear of los­ing jobs to il­le­gals, eco­nomic com­pe­tence cited

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY RALPH Z. HAL­LOW

To hear po­lit­i­cal pun­dits tell it, Don­ald Trump has lit­tle chance to at­tract enough His­panic vot­ers to win the pres­i­dency in 2016 be­cause of his plans to build a bor­der wall and de­port all il­le­gal im­mi­grants in Amer­ica. Some poll­sters and ac­tivists who have whipped up past His­panic sup­port for Repub­li­cans, how­ever, see it dif­fer­ently.

They think Mr. Trump’s laser­ing in on the econ­omy and his per­ceived com­pe­tence in cre­at­ing jobs will ap­peal to the one seg­ment of His­pan­ics that mat­ters most in elec­tions: those who work and tend to vote. That’s be­cause those vot­ers fear il­le­gal im­mi­grants will com­pete for their jobs un­der the new Obama amnesty.

“This stuff you read about how His­pan­ics are go­ing to run away from Trump in droves is a North­east­ern myth,” said long­time pres­i­den­tial cam­paign ad­viser Mark San­ders.

“Most His­pan­ics here in East Texas are here le­gally, they vote, and they are hard-line op­po­nents of il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion,” said Mr. San­ders, a top ad­viser in Demo­crat Tony Sanchez’s 2002 cam­paign to un­seat thenGov. Rick Perry. “The only one they want is Trump — not Hil­lary, not Bernie. That’s the co­nun­drum for Democrats.”

Mr. San­ders says His­pan­ics in East Texas “come here from ru­ral back­grounds, from the lower end of the so­cial and eco­nomic lad­der. Most of their kids go to com­mu­nity col­leges be­cause it’s all their fam­i­lies can af­ford, and then go di­rectly into the mil­i­tary. They have hard-core pa­tri­o­tism — just what Trump plays into,” Mr. San­ders added.

Whether Mr. Trump is say­ing he loves His­pan­ics or vow­ing to de­port all 11 mil­lion or so il­le­gal im­mi­grants, it’s equally mu­sic to the ears of many His­panic vot­ers.

“I don’t care if he likes me or not as a His­panic or Latino, as long he cre­ates the jobs he promised,” said Carlo Maf­fatt, a Mex­i­can im­mi­grant who lives in Las Ve­gas and who did po­lit­i­cal li­ai­son work in the His­panic com­mu­nity for Repub­li­cans dur­ing the 2012 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. “He is never go­ing to take me out for a beer, so it doesn’t mat­ter whether I like him or not either.

“The job of the pres­i­dent of the United Stats is to cre­ate jobs, not to be the friend of ev­ery Amer­i­can,” Mr. Maf­fatt said.

Mr. Maf­fatt said re­cent His­panic im­mi­grants have plenty of rea­son to fa­vor Mr. Trump: They don’t want new im­mi­grants, es­pe­cially il­le­gal im­mi­grants, com­pet­ing for “a job for what­ever any­one will give them.”

“When we are new here and des­per­ately try­ing to make a liv­ing, we will charge less than white An­glo-Sax­ons. We even­tu­ally im­prove our lot, but then when we have more new im­mi­grants com­ing in, [and] we’re the first to lose our jobs be­cause they’re will­ing to work for less money,” he said.

Ad­mit­tedly, Mr. Maf­fatt’s anal­y­sis runs counter to what many TV poll­sters and pun­dits have said in re­cent weeks. One na­tional poll this fall had Mr. Trump’s un­fa­vor­a­bil­ity among His­pan­ics at a death-rat­tling 82 per­cent.

“Polls show an in­cred­i­bly low His­panic propen­sity to vote for Trump,” vet­eran Colorado-based poll­ster Floyd Cir­uli told The Wash­ing­ton Times.

One rea­son may be a form of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness.

While Mr. Cir­uli doesn’t ex­pect Mr. Trump to break any His­panic voter turnout records, he does be­lieve the cur­rent polls are un­der­mea­sur­ing work­ing-class His­pan­ics who may vote in 2016.

“Reg­u­lar sam­plings by polling firms of cell­phones and home phones are miss­ing lots of re­cent im­mi­grants, be­cause they’re not on voter reg­is­tra­tion rolls,” Mr. Cir­uli ex­plained. “Whether they’re ser­vice industry work­ers or in other blue-col­lar jobs, there’s no doubt they’re less likely to be within voter sam­ples that poll­sters use.

“Trump will get a share of that vote, and that is not be­ing re­flected in of­fi­cial polls,” Mr. Cir­uli said.

A sec­ond rea­son polls are off the mark is “a cul­tural ex­pec­ta­tion among re­spon­dents that there should be eth­nic sol­i­dar­ity — Mex­i­can pride and na­tion­al­ism, for ex­am­ple,” Mr. Cir­uli added. “Hence, if you are His­panic, you should not be for Trump. That’s the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect thing to an­swer.”

Vet­eran GOP poll­ster Neil Ne­w­house, who is work­ing for Jeb Bush’s su­per PAC, also thinks there may be some­thing to the sus­pi­cion that there may ac­tu­ally be a hid­den trea­sure trove of pro-Trump His­panic votes. “It is go­ing to be so­cially un­ac­cept­able among His­pan­ics to say they are for Trump,” said Mr. Ne­w­house. “So His­pan­ics who hold pro-Trump views may keep them close to their chests.”

“The prob­lem with in­ter­pret­ing the polls that show Trump [is] hugely un­pop­u­lar with His­pan­ics is that a huge num­ber of peo­ple are in fact very much at­tracted to his job mes­sage and anti-es­tab­lish­ment celebrity,” said Mr. Cir­uli. “He’s ex­tremely good at it. And he has a charisma.”

Anec­do­tal ev­i­dence that Mr. Trump has more ap­peal among His­pan­ics than he is cred­ited with re­sides in the sur­pris­ing — though far from sci­en­tific — re­sults of in­ter­views with His­pan­ics work­ers and po­lit­i­cal play­ers on the front lines of the elec­tion. Many de­clined to al­low their last names to be pub­lished for fear of back­lash for the sen­ti­ments they ex­pressed.

Take, for in­stance, Os­car, 58, a New York City ho­tel bell­man who im­mi­grated to Amer­ica le­gally from Peru. In a pri­vate mo­ment dur­ing a three-day con­fer­ence at the ho­tel that em­ploys him, Os­car hap­pily vol­un­teered his pref­er­ence for pres­i­dent. In­stead of an ex­pected “Clin­ton” or “San­ders,” he vol­un­teered “Trump.” Why? “We don’t be­lieve any­body but Trump,” he said. “Trump won’t have to sell him­self to any­body to get elected.”

That is, in the view of Os­car and Mr. Trump’s His­panic sup­port­ers, the bil­lion­aire real es­tate de­vel­oper won’t go along with the U.S. cor­po­ra­tions and busi­nesses that are widely be­lieved to be al­ways on the prowl for cheap la­bor, with le­gal­ity not the over­rid­ing is­sue.

“Trump, he gives us hope; so it’s hope over be­lief,” Os­car said. Hope for what? “That he’ll build the wall and stop more from com­ing in to lower our wages and move us out of our jobs,” he ex­plained.

Then there’s the four wait­ers at a North­ern Vir­ginia ho­tel’s restau­rant — two from Bo­livia and two from Gu­atemala. Each also vol­un­teered dur­ing a pri­vate mo­ment a pref­er­ence for Mr. Trump. All of­fered the same coun­ter­in­tu­itive rea­son: “He will build the wall.”

One of the women said she orig­i­nally came here on a visa that ex­pired. She stayed, be­com­ing an il­le­gal alien for a time un­til a fam­ily hired her to take care of their chil­dren and wran­gled her a green card, she said. Only then did she send for her chil­dren still in Peru.

“This is not a good place if you are here il­le­gally,” she said.

Niger Innis, a Congress of Racial Equal­ity na­tional of­fi­cial, thinks such per­sonal tes­ti­mony from Os­car and the restau­rant work­ers is com­mon enough to be worth tak­ing se­ri­ously.

“Trump is ac­tu­ally do­ing sur­pris­ingly well among His­pan­ics,” Mr. Innis said.

“If Trump main­tains the 27 per­cent Latino vote I think he has, and gets just 20 per­cent of the black vote, he’ll not only be elected pres­i­dent, he’ll be elected in a land­slide that will com­pletely re­make the elec­toral map,” he added. “Places like Penn­syl­va­nia, New Jer­sey, Michi­gan and even Illi­nois all of sud­den come back in play, while states like Florida, Vir­ginia, North Car­olina are taken off the bat­tle­ground map and put firmly in the Repub­li­can camp,” said Mr. Innis.

If a Trump pres­i­dency does come to pass, will it be dif­fer­ent enough to make a dif­fer­ence?

For Mr. Maf­fatt, who hails orig­i­nally from Mex­ico City, it could go either way.

“I’m cu­ri­ous what hap­pens if an ac­com­plished busi­ness­man be­comes pres­i­dent and as­sem­bles a cabi­net based on merit and ac­com­plish­ment in­stead of pay­ing peo­ple off for po­lit­i­cal help,” Mr. Maf­fatt said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner Don­ald Trump has in­formed his strug­gling GOP op­po­nents it is best to drop out of the race to make way for his self-de­scribed even­tual nod.

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