Latino Donald Trump supporters may sound like an anomaly, but the Republican nominee actually has more approval from the group than most realize. Among them, the members of Latinas for Trump, a Miami-based duo who believe the real estate mogul-turned-politician has what it takes to “make America great again.”
Latinas for Trump launched earlier this year, born out of the admiration co-founders Denise Galvez and Ileana García had for the presidential candidate.
“I admired what he was doing for the country,” García, who works in radio and television, told us. “But mostly, for me, it was being able to exercise my first amendment right, and my right as an American citizen in a free country.”
García, like Galvez, is Cuban-American, and the level of condemnation she received when opening up about her support of Trump reminded her of stories she heard from her parents about censorship on the island.
“Never have I felt so demonized because of my choice for a candidate, so censured, bullied and persecuted. I could not fathom that because I only heard those stories from my parents, who left Cuba to avoid those kinds of things,” she said.
Both García and Galvez fend off hate mail and online harassment daily. The constant questioning of their Latinidad and remarks that they’re “selling out” or are “ignorant low-lives” feels isolating. It can even get scary. Once, García received a message from a man who threatened that he was “coming after her.”
Despite the constant backlash they receive for their Trump support, the two remain passionate about their mission: to get more people on the Trump train, support Latina backers who aren’t public and get the Republican nominee elected.
They do this by unifying with other pro-Trump Latino groups, getting them and individual voters mobilized, translating the candidate’s materials in Spanish, volunteering for his campaign and hosting monthly events in their area.
Their goal: to get Trump’s "real" message out to their community, not the one they believe liberal media has misrepresented.
“More Latinos don’t approve of Trump because they’re misinformed,” said Galvez, the president of a public relations and marketing firm. “They’re getting their news from Jorge Ramos, and Univision and Telemundo, and they all cater to Hillary.”
According to the latest NBC News-Survey Monkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll, just 22 percent of registered Latino voters support Trump, compared to the 73 percent that back his rival Hillary Clinton.
For Galvez and García, one of the biggest mischaracterizations by the media has been on Trump’s immigration proposals, an issue immensely important to Latinos. They believe that more members of their community would back the candidate if it weren’t for their initial impression of Trump, who launched his campaign by calling Mexicans "rapists" and drug-runners and threatened to deport undocumented immigrants en masse and have Mexico pay to build a wall along the southern border – some stances he has since softened.
“I think that we are responsible for what we say, not how others perceive it. He didn’t word his message correctly, but what he was saying was, ‘who are we going to hold responsible for those who have jumped over illegally, overstayed their visa and become a burden to our economy? Why is it that 11 million undocumented immigrants became more important than law-abiding citizens?’ He didn’t say it the right way, and liberal media played the racist card from the beginning. And when you offend someone from the get-go, it’s difficult to get past that,” García said.
She continued: “Trump is very Latino in the aspect that we do things on the spot. We don’t think about it. He speaks faster than he thinks, and it gets him in trouble. This happens to people who are transparent.”
Galvez, who, unlike García, didn’t vote for Trump in the primaries and needed some serious convincing before backing the candidate, does so now partly because of his position on immigration.
“I agree with him in security being our first priority. I also agree with him in securing our border, which is not to deport 11 million immigrants,” she said.
She also supports Trump's plans to boost the economy, increase veteran care and renegotiate trade policy.
For García, a Trump presidency would be one that’s good for all Americans – not just Latinos.
“He’s 100 percent of America. It’s not about males, females, trans, young, old, Latino, African American; it’s about we’re all Americans, and we’re all in this boat together,” she said.