By Nick Tantillo, third-year journalism major
The terms Latino and Hispanic are used interchangeably to reflect common usage in media and research. The debate surrounding correct usage, while necessary, exceeds the boundaries of this article.
Three months have passed since television personality, Donald J. Trump, son of real estate developer, Fred Trump, announced his candidacy for President of the United States. During that time, Trump has managed to recreate the past success of his 2004 television show, The Apprentice. That is: to draw an audience. His polarizing brand of unapologetic claims has created strong camps on both sides of the political aisle. Those who approve of Trump, tune in to watch their candidate push his “Make America Great Again!” campaign forward. Others tune in because Trump continues to shape the rhetoric of the 2016 presidential race. Headline news is made or lost with each racist, sexist or xenophobic claim he delivers. In either case, we are watching you, Mr. Trump.
His product is simple. He amplifies the frustrated voices of the largest ideological share of the U.S. electorate: conservatives. And what better candidate to do so? Save the most recent debate, he is a genius self-promoter capable of debasing fellow candidates who promises to shut down policy antithetical to conservative beliefs such as President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration. The confusion that stems from the
public’s belief of claims, validates Trump’s factless ramblings. Take for example, Trump’s well cited comment “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Here lies the issue that many have queued into: Do beliefs have a place in politics?
Trump’s equation of undocumented immigrants to rapists, to no one’s surprise, invited a media firestorm unto the Trump campaign. The majority of journalists asked the logical question: How will this influence the Latino Vote? A survey published by the television broadcasting company, Univision, found the claim largely repelled Latino voters. To illustrate this point, another research group, Gallup, designed a bar graph that measured each GOP candidate’s favorability among Latino voters. Trump received a favorability rating of -51, while the next most un- favorable candidates were Former Governor Rick Perry and Senator Ted Cruz, both received a rating of -7. This doesn’t look good for Republicans who have historically lost the Latino Vote to Democrats, but need to claim 47 percent of the Latino Vote in order to win this Presidential election.
Despite the research, Trump’s comment doesn’t worry some Republicans. “I don’t think Hispanics respond in a monolithic way,” Lt. Gov. John Sanchez of New Mexico told The Los Angeles Times in a July article claiming Trump will not lose the Latino vote. Sanchez offers that Trump’s claim will resonate with Latino immigrants who gained citizenship legally and feel that others should do the same.
So, projections indicate Trump — or any other anti-immigrant GOP candidate — will lose the Latino Vote in 2016. What, then, was his angle? Why say it?
Trump critics have long advocated that his language reflects the conservative right’s fear of the unknown. The comment, undocumented immigrants are rapists, taps into American xenophobia around the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. right now. Without the proper mechanisms to label, categorize and track them, this fear tells us that they might as well be dangerous or suspect to commit a crime, right? Check out Philip Bump’s Washington Post article published on July 2, “Surprise! Donald Trump is wrong about immigrants and crime.” The evidence against the correlation between undocumented immigrants and criminal activity is staggering.
What we know of undocumented immigrants isn’t much. According to a Wall Street Journal article published on April 7 — two months before Trump announced his candidacy — as many as 40 percent of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the
U.S. are individuals who entered the country legally and overstayed their visas. This means that about four million immigrants, from across the globe, passed the health and background exams to become temporary residents of the U.S.
President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration — the one Trump plans to stamp out when he becomes President — aims to improve the path to citizenship and allow some of the 11 million to gain recognition. The fact of the matter is this: fear makes for a great campaign tool in Trump’s belt. It registers immediately with an electorate who believes there is a stranger in our midst. It is far more effective to provide an im- mediate solution, like mass depor- tation, so long as it addresses that fear. After all, it is the President’s job to eliminate uncertainty. But it is our job to be alright with it.
The views expressed in op-eds are solely those of the student who wrote and submitted it. They do not necessarily reflect those of The New Paltz Oracle, its staff members, the campus and university or the Town or Village of New Paltz.