Just how well was Donald Trump’s immigration speech received? Well, we know white supremacists loved it. But others, including Latinos who formerly supported Trump, are reacting very differently.
Katie Glueck and Kyle Cheney reported for Politico that a member of Trump's National Hispanic Advisory Council quickly resigned after the speech, which focused on building a wall at the US–Mexico border and deporting millions of people who entered America illegally.
“I was a strong supporter of Donald Trump when I believed he was going to address the immigration problem realistically and compassionately,” Jacob Monty explained. “What I heard today was not realistic and not compassionate.”
Another member of the National Hispanic Advisory Council, Texas pastor Ramiro Pena, argued the speech potentially destroyed Trump’s chances of winning the election.
“I am so sorry but I believe Mr. Trump lost the election tonight,” he told Republican leaders in an email obtained by Politico. “The ‘National Hispanic Advisory Council’ seems to be simply for optics and I do not have the time or energy for a scam.”
“I will pray over the next couple of days but it is difficult to [imagine] how I can continue to associate with the Trump campaign,” he added. “I owe my national audience an explanation.”
Part of the response seems aimed not just at the substance of the speech, but the rhetoric Trump used. Early on in the speech, Trump suggested not deporting people would mean that “we don’t have a country,” since enforcing laws is “what it means to have laws and to have a country.” This was just one of the ways Trump characterized unauthorized immigrants as criminals at odds with the entire US.
To get at how frightening this is for these immigrants, my colleague Dara Lind asked readers to imagine what it would be like to be an unauthorized immigrant listening to Trump’s speech. She wrote:
Trump is saying that your and your family’s well-being comes at the expense of the well-being of Americans — that the two are a zero-sum battle. He’s calling people like you “thugs.” He’s promising — threatening — that police know exactly who you are, where you live. He’s promising — threatening — that they’re just waiting for a green light so they can bust through your door, cuff you, and turn you over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.
You’ve only begun to accept, possibly, the fact that you probably won’t be deported under President Obama. You’ve begun to recognize a glimmer of hope.
Donald Trump promises that under his administration, you would be at risk of deportation every day of your life.
He says it’s the point of having a country.
You listen to Donald Trump and feel disgusted for ever having had hope at all.
This is what leaders like Pena feel like they have to answer for after Trump’s speech. In that context, it’s no surprise they’re quitting Trump’s campaign or at least considering it.