Donald Trump ditched by Hispanic supporters after 'inhumane' immigration speech

Mr Trump had been promising a softer approach, but that was not what he delivered in Phoenix address

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Thursday 01 September 2016 14:03 BST
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Mr Trump has little support among Hispanic voters – or Mexicans
Mr Trump has little support among Hispanic voters – or Mexicans (AP)

There were not that many to begin with. But Donald Trump on Thursday was facing an exodus of senior Hispanic supporters after delivering an abrasive, back-to-basics speech on immigration.

Earlier on Wednesday, at a meeting with the president of Mexico, the New York tycoon appeared restrained and even conciliatory. But by the time he returned to Phoenix to address supporters, he was back to vowing to build a border wall and force Mexico to pay - a proposal that had been rejected by Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto.

“Mexico will pay for the wall, believe me - 100 per cent - they don’t know it yet, but they will pay for the wall,” he said.

(AFP/Getty)

Soon afterwards, several senior Latino leaders, who have acted as surrogates for the Republican candidate, made clear they were not impressed.

Jacob Monty, a lawyer from Houston, said he was resigning from Mr Trump’s National Hispanic Advisory Council, while and Alfonso Aguilar, the president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, told Politico that he was “inclined” to pull his support.

“I was a strong supporter of Donald Trump when I believed he was going to address the immigration problem realistically and compassionately,” said Mr Monty. “What I heard today was not realistic and not compassionate.”

Mr Aguilar was once a critic of Mr Trump who said he had changed his mind and organised a letter of support signed by himself and other prominent Latino conservatives. He has repeatedly stood up for Mr Trump in media appearances.

Trump maintains that Mexico will build wall

“It’s so disappointing because we feel we took a chance, a very risky chance,” he told the news sites. “We decided to make a big U-turn to see if we could make him change. We thought we were moving in the right direction…we’re disappointed. We feel misled.”

On CNN on Thursday, Mr Aguilar said he believed Mr Trump would "move to the centre" on immigration and decided to support the tycoon because of his dislike of Hillary Clinton. He said even until Wednesday morning, Mr Trump's campaign was saying that he would deal with undocumented migrants humanely. He said that after hearing the speech in Phoenix, he felt misled and disappointed.

"I'm telling you today I'm withdrawing my support from Donald Trump, and many people like me think the same way," he added.

Mr Trump last month voiced openness to “softening” his immigration pitch ahead of the general election.

A Fox News poll showing that Ms Clinton was leaading him 66-20 in support from Hispanic voters was no doubt a factor.

And in his visit to Mexico he stressed the contribution of Americans of Mexican descent, saying they were “beyond reproach” and “spectacular, hard-working people”.

However, Mr Trump’s remarks late on Wednesday on his return from Mexico, ended speculation the real estate tycoon would move to the centre on the topic.

“Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation, that is what it means to have laws and to have a country,” he said. “Otherwise we don’t have a country.”

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