Many Lati­nos, Asians vote for GOP

Party main­tains sup­port de­spite Trump’s rhetoric

USA TODAY International Edition - - ELECTION 2018 - Rick Jervis

Adryana Aldeen hov­ered out­side a Dal­las polling sta­tion Tues­day with a sign that read “Pete Ses­sions for Congress” and a T-shirt that said “Lati­nas for Ab­bott” – pro­mot­ing both the in­cum­bent Repub­li­can U.S. con­gress­man from the Dal­las sub­urbs and the in­cum­bent Repub­li­can gov­er­nor of Texas.

Aldeen, who im­mi­grated from Mex­ico three decades ago, wasn’t let­ting Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s harsh rhetoric on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion get in the way of Repub­li­can wins.

“I be­lieve in the sovereignty of the state,” said Aldeen, a GOP ac­tivist and spe­cial ad­viser for His­panic en­gage­ment for the Repub­li­can Party of Texas. “This is a na­tion of im­mi­grants, but we need to do ev­ery­thing we can for the rule of law.”

Aldeen joins a sig­nificant num­ber of im­mi­grant vot­ers who sup­ported the Repub­li­can Party on Tues­day and, in turn, Trump, de­spite the pres­i­dent’s con­tro­ver­sial stances on im­mi­gra­tion lead­ing up to the elec­tions.

Over the past few months, Trump ini­ti­ated a “zero tol­er­ance” pol­icy that led to mi­grant chil­dren be­ing sep­a­rated from their par­ents at the bor­der, gave alarm­ing and un­sub­stan­ti­ated warn­ings about a car­a­van of mi­grants com­ing from Cen­tral Amer­ica, threat­ened to elim­i­nate birthright cit­i­zen­ship and retweeted a racially charged video link­ing a con­victed mur­derer to im­mi­grants and the Demo­cratic Party.

The tough talk didn’t seem to chase away im­mi­grant vot­ers in sig­nificant num­bers.

On Tues­day, Democrats got about 68 per­cent of the Latino vote, slightly higher than the 66 per­cent won by Hil­lary Clin­ton in 2016, while Repub­li­cans gar­nered 30 per­cent of their vote, just above the 28 per­cent Trump earned four years ago, ac­cord­ing to exit polling.

Asian vot­ers sided with Democrats 77 per­cent of the time in Tues­day’s elec­tions, and Repub­li­cans re­ceived 23 per­cent of their vote, the exit polling showed.

Vic­tor Sanchez, a pro-Trump Repub­li­can from Hous­ton, said he dis­agreed with the pres­i­dent’s threat on birthright cit­i­zen­ship, which is pro­tected un­der the Four­teenth Amend­ment, but was not fazed by his tough talk on se­cur­ing the bor­der.

At a Trump rally in Hous­ton last month sup­port­ing Sen. Ted Cruz, Sanchez, 25, who im­mi­grated to the U.S. from Mex­ico when he was 5, said he was pleased to see other Lati­nos, from Mex­ico, Cuba and other coun­tries, ral­ly­ing around the pres­i­dent and his poli­cies.

“There’s thou­sands and thou­sands of them,” Sanchez said. “They may be a lit­tle shy ... but once they go to the polls, they vote their con­science.”

Saba Ahmed, pres­i­dent of the Wash­ing­ton-based Repub­li­can Mus­lim Coali­tion and a Trump sup­porter, said it was ini­tially a chal­lenge per­suad­ing Mus­lim im­mi­grants to sup­port the pres­i­dent and the GOP af­ter Trump pro­posed a travel ban on five pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim coun­tries.

But, Ahmed tells po­ten­tial vot­ers, it’s bet­ter to try to ini­ti­ate change from the in­side than com­plain about poli­cies from the out­side.

She has man­aged to get more can­di­dates to speak at Mus­lim gath­er­ings and would like to see a Mus­lim in Trump’s Cabi­net.

“The great­est op­por­tu­nity for im­mi­grants is within the Repub­li­can Party,” Ahmed said. “We have to get in­volved. We have to get our voices heard.”

Asian-Amer­i­cans care about im­mi­gra­tion, but other is­sues – such as the econ­omy, trade and col­lege-en­trance pro­ce­dures – are equally im­por­tant, said Cliff Zhong­gang Li, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Com­mit­tee of Asian Amer­i­can Repub­li­cans.

Trump scored points with the Asian com­mu­nity ear­lier this year when his ad­min­is­tra­tion backed stu­dents su­ing Har­vard Uni­ver­sity over affirma­tive-ac­tion pro­grams they say dis­crim­i­nate against Asian-Amer­i­cans, Li said.

Li, orig­i­nally from China, cel­e­brated Tues­day night with a group of other Asian-Amer­i­cans at a vic­tory party in Or­lando for Florida gov­er­nor-elect Ron DeSan­tis.

“Frankly, a lot of Asian-Amer­i­cans don’t like the tone the pres­i­dent uses,” Li said. “But so far, we haven’t seen any de­ci­sive is­sue that turns off the AsianAmer­i­can com­mu­nity.” He added: “But we’ll see what hap­pens the next two years or six years.”

Ja­cob Monty, a Hous­ton-based at­tor­ney and Latino and GOP ac­tivist, said re­cruit­ing Repub­li­can vot­ers be­came markedly more difficult the past 10 days as Trump fired up the rhetoric against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

He got push­back not just from Latino vot­ers but from An­glo busi­ness own­ers, he said, who were turned off by Trump’s com­ments, es­pe­cially his pro­mo­tion of a web video show­ing Luis Bra­ca­montes, a Mex­i­can man who had been de­ported but re­turned to the U.S. and was con­victed in Fe­bru­ary in the slay­ing of two Cal­i­for­nia deputies, mixed in with im­ages of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants.

De­spite wins on Tues­day, Monty said he’s wor­ried about the long-term health of a Repub­li­can Party that sup­ports such scare tac­tics aimed at Lati­nos.

“I’m wor­ried the brand has been tar­nished,” he said. “I’m still root­ing for the home team, but I’m very wor­ried about it.”


Mari­achi mu­si­cians ser­e­nade Griselda Sanchez, left, and Eve­lyn Franco, sec­ond from left, en route to the polls Tues­day in Los An­ge­les.

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