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Is Trump Chasing the Latino Vote?

Donald Trump’s recent public events and statements indicate that his campaign is switching course and pursuing the Latino vote. 

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Going off of current national polls, it seems that President Donald Trump will have to move heaven and Earth to keep his seat. 

According to Gallup, after the month of June, his approval rating stood at 38%, which is lower than what presidents Obama or Bush had at this point in their first term. 

In head-to-head polling with his 2020 opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, the future looks even bleaker. 

A poll from RMG Research that was conducted between July 9 to 11 found that Trump was seven points down to Biden nationally. The results were 46% to 39% respectively. 

GOP strategists have a lot of work ahead of them as the president has repeatedly shot his campaign in foot this year.

Biden has his fair share of gaffes, but Trump has failed to react to the two biggest events of the year in America:  The COVID-19 health crisis and public outcry for police reform after the murder of George Floyd.

His team has clearly made an effort to approach Latino as of late for many reasons. 

Latino voters will be a significant part of the electorate in swing states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida — states Trump won in 2016.

They are also the largest nonwhite population in the country, and Biden is currently not polling well with them. 

According to a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll from June 26, only 59% percent of Latinx people would vote for Biden over Trump. That is 7 points down from the 66% Latinx support that Hillary Clinton received in 2016. 

Biden’s low support among Latinos stems from his record as a senator and vice president.

In the Senate, he authored the 1994 Crime Bill that contributed to mass incarceration of people in communities of color. The U.S. now has the largest prison population in the world and American prisoners are 25% of all prisoners globally. 

As vice president, he was part of an administration that deported the largest number of immigrants of any other presidency in U.S. history. Data from the Department of Homeland Security shows that over two terms, the administration deported over 3 million people. 

To appeal to the key voting bloc of Latino voters, Trump is going to have to drastically change his rhetoric from when he was campaigning in 2016. 

“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,” he said on June 16, 2015.

He will also have to deliver on policies for immigrant communities instead of promoting draconian measures.

These include but are not limited to: building a wall along the southern border, threatening to revoke U.S. citizenship for those born to an undocumented parent and separating migrant children from their parents while holding them in cages. 

Many would argue that this is not a hurdle he can not overcome, but his recent announcements and events prove that the Trump campaign is giving it their best shot. 

Trump's New Strategy

After promising to be hard on immigration, he can actually tout deportation numbers that are less than under the Obama era. 

Obama and Biden averaged 383,307 per year, but Trump has never surpassed 300,000 in any of the years that he has been in office.

Mexicans are the largest sector of the Latino population in the U.S. and on July 8, he met with Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Washington D.C.

The meeting was López Obrador’s first foreign visit since taking office and celebrated the USMCA, a new trilateral free trade deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, going into effect.

In a joint statement with the Mexican president, Trump changed his tone when speaking about Mexican people. No longer referring to them as criminals. 

“Mexico and the United States are joined together by shared values, shared faith and shared future on this beautiful continent. We’re both proud sovereign nations built over generations by the sweat, sacrifice and devotion of hard working people who love their country,” said Trump.

After that meeting he invited the CEO of Goya Foods, Robert Unanue, to the White House. Goya is the largest hispanic-owned food company in the country. 

Unanue did not only have a Rose Garden event with the president, but also publicly expressed his support for him.

“We’re all truly blessed to have at the same time to have a leader like President Trump,” Unanue said at the event.

Keeping the Venezuelan population in Florida in mind, Trump has lessened his support of opposition leader to Nicolas Maduro, Juan Guaidó. Only months after inviting Guaidó to the State of Union in February, he has since said that he is open to meeting with Maduro

Trump has noticed that in the 18 months the U.S. has backed the opposition, there have not been any major advancements. For this reason, he backed off the political crisis in Venezuela and now simply calls for democracy. 

“I support whoever it is that’s elected and right now he seems to be the person that’s elected but the system is very bad over there. He seems to be losing certain power. We want someone who has the support of the people,” he told Telemundo when asked if he still backs Guaidó.

Trump has even verbally demonstrated an openness to giving DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship after fighting in the Supreme Court to terminate the program that allows undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to work and seek higher education in the country legally.

Even though he was successful in getting the program to not accept new applicants earlier in his presidency, on June 18, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Trump could not terminate the program based on the arguments he presented. 

Trump has said that in four weeks, he is going to unveil his new immigration plan that includes DACA recipients without giving amnesty to all undocumented immigrants. 

It is still unclear whether he plans to do this via an executive order or Congress.

President Trump can continue to extend olive branches to Latinos and make them a larger part of his reelection strategy, but will it be enough to overcome his history with the community?

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