This past Monday, a Noticias Telemundo/NALEO tracking poll on the 2016 US presidential election showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 74% to 15% with Latinos nationally.
In an effort to explore this expanding gap, photographers Edoardo Delille and Giulia Piermartiri, of the photography collective Riverboom, have traveled throughout the American Southwest to hear from those Latinos who have maintained their support for the controversial Republican nominee.
Although his virulent anti-immigration stance, his promise of building a wall along the Southern border (and getting Mexico to pay for it), and his outright racist comments about Latinos make “The Donald” a very improbable champion of the Hispanic community, that is only part of the picture. A quick tour of Facebook pages, forums, and blogs reveals a more complex reality. We just want to show the most unexpected supporters of the White House candidate.
1. Raul Rodriguez Jr. of Apple Valley, California
"I was born in El Paso, Texas. My father was born in Durango, Mexico, and came to the USA and joined the Army as a medic during the second world war. I served in the United States Army from 1960 to 1964 as a communications specialist. I truly believe Donald Trump will make a great president because he loves this great country of ours and he will make America great again.
"But I agree with his stand on illegal immigration, because they don't deserve any benefits at all, these benefits should and must be given to help our veterans, help our homeless, and help our foster children before anyone in our country illegally. They don't have any rights, and the American people should come first. As for Hillary Clinton, she didn't impress me at all. I feel the only reason she stayed with Bill Clinton was so she could run for president after Obama's term was up."
2. Marissa Desilets of Beverly Hills, California
"My grandparents were born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States. My mom and dad were born in America. I am a graduate of Loyola Marymount University. My degrees are in political science and economics. I was a senator at Loyola Marymount and an intern for LA Trump. I am a Hispanic conservative, Republican woman. I decided to support Donald J. Trump because I think America needs a better defense, and more jobs. With Trump as president, I can expect strong leadership and preservation of the Constitution of the United States of America.
"I agree, we have to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and create a health care program following free market principles. With Hillary Clinton as president of the United States, I expect the poor to become poorer and our country to become divided states under the brand of 'equality' with a neglect of 'liberty.' I believe that liberals' reckless domestic spending will bankrupt our future generations to come. I will not support a party which desires are to expand the government and take away civil liberties."
3. Francisco Rivera of Huntington Park, California
"I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and came to the US with my aunt when I was about 7 years old. Trump is not doing it for the money, for the fame, all he wants is a country with laws, rules, authority, and integrity. I strongly feel Hillary Clinton is not going to do that at all. This is my country, this is my home. I love this country enough to vote for a person I feel is going to set this country the right way, regardless of what anybody says.
"You will never leave your house without locking your door. You make sure it's locked so no one comes in your house. Other countries protect their borders, why can't we? This is a country of immigrants, but do we want to be a country of legal or illegal immigrants? This is coming from a person who has been living in a Hispanic community for nearly 37 years. I've seen my community being thrashed around, spray-painted, vandalized. Just because we're a Hispanic community, nobody's going to say anything, and they think they have that right to do whatever it is they please."
4. Laura Diaz of San Antonio, Texas
"I'm first generation of Mexican descendent, my mother is from Mexico City, my father from Durango. I am a conservative that thinks for herself and does not vote based on the party-line stance. I decide to support Trump because he is not a career politician and not funded by special interest groups. I appreciate his brutal candor and honesty — the good, bad, and the ugly. He may be extremely insensitive, but that does not render him a racist, bigot, or misogynist.
"I don’t want Hillary to win. She is disingenuous, a career liar/politician and a panderer to any 'cause of the moment' — who notably admires the late radical Saul Alinsky and late US Senator Robert Byrd, a former Klansman and KKK recruiter. With Trump as president, I expect better national security through a stronger immigration vetting system that does not apologize for wanting to keep Islamic terrorists or illegals with criminal pasts out of the USA."
5. Jimena Rivera of Laredo, Texas
"My name is Jimena Rivera, born on May 9, 1996, in Matamoros, Mexico. I have been a citizen of that country since birth. It is my homeland and where my roots will always be found in. There is a lot of irony in the fact that I care about US politics when I can't even vote there. Having been there for such a long time, though, I do care about the country. I owe it a lot. The United States has always prided itself on being a nation of freedom. This is why its government is so important: It protects people's freedoms.
"Although I can't vote for him, I do support Donald Trump. I believe he has grown during his campaign as a person. He is not without flaws, but he stands for what I value most. The issue I see as most important is the issue of abortion. Abortion is really about how a person sees and values another human life. Trump has declared himself to be pro-life. He is running under a party that is also pro-life. That is enough to gain my support."
6. Dr. Alexander Villicana of Laguna Beach, California
"I'm a young 79 years old. My parents were both born in Mexico. I studied cosmetic surgery. I support Trump because he's smart and honest with a history of hardworking success, like me! With Trump as president, I expect social and economic progress with rewards for hard work. Trump would be very strong with this, and Hillary would apologize for us like Obama, instead of showing force and strength.
"I agree with the idea of the wall on the Mexican border. It's necessary to have secure borders; the wall is a good idea, but it is not essential. Trump's vision is for more jobs, better-paying jobs, and education improvement for better jobs. Decrease in income taxes for individuals and corporations and removal of estate taxes, which hurts small businesses and farmers."
7. Angelo Gomez of Las Vegas, Nevada
"My family is from Puerto Rico and Nicaragua. My whole life I have been certain about two things: American politics and my strong faith in God. My main goal is to become the first Latino president of United States so I can bring the same morals that Donald Trump wants to brings back.
"A huge reason why I support Donald Trump is because of his economic plan to bring back jobs to America, to implement better trade deals. I think right now people don't respect the United States as they should, and he will be the solution. 'Americans first' is his promise, which summarizes my support for Trump."
8. Morgan Cisneros Graham of Brownsville, Texas
"I am 33 years old and the elected Republican county chairman for the southernmost border county in the continental US — Cameron County. My great-grandparents were born and raised in Mexico, and my family identifies as Americans first and foremost, but also as Hispanic. I do not support the wall or border fences, as I have seen them fail.
"I believe that we have a broken immigration system which creates an incentivized black market. Because human trafficking is a profitable industry, that money gets reinvested into border corruption, particularly in Mexico. More poverty on their side leads to even greater need to look elsewhere: to the North. We need to address the immigration system and black markets such as human trafficking by coyotes. Then and only then will the snake stop biting its tail. The issue is social, economic, and humanitarian. Trump doesn't refer to me, my family, or my community as the 'taco bowl.'"
9. Teresa Mendoza of Mesa, Arizona
"When I was young I was very liberal, but now I don't want to vote Democrat anymore. My political motivation changes when you start to mess with my money. I work so hard and you lie to me. Mr. Trump is everything that Washington political leaders are not. He really is for the people. He doesn't have to do this, I wouldn't do it if I was him. He sees how America is going down and he's risking everything."
10. Bertrand Usher of Los Angeles, California
"My mother is Latina and African-American. She was born and raised in inner-city Los Angeles, while my father migrated from Belize when he was about 15 years old. Trump is the best candidate, he's an actual human being. He clearly shows he has bias, he has issues. Hillary Clinton hides it through smiles and her family. I think Trump is the ultimate wake-up call. People were asking for this. Trump beat the RNC system. Trump proved everybody wrong. He did the most American thing you could do. Everybody said you couldn't do it, people said the RNC would block him out. He put the middle finger up and did it."
11. Angie Gonzales, Tina Puente, and Mary Garza of Harlingen, Texas
Angie Gonzales says, "I’m a Rio Grande Valley girl, born and raised, born at Los Potreros Ranch, a family-owned ranch in Willacy County. I’m 73 years old, daughter of two first-generation US-born citizens whose parents were from Mexico. I have always prided myself in the freedom to choose candidates from both party platforms, but after several years of business ownership and committed years of church participation, I slowly began the transition to being more and more Republican in my political stances.
"I support Trump for president because of the party. I believe in small government and believe in the moral issues that the party stands for. I do not believe that either party is perfect, but I believe that the Republican platform better represents my beliefs and ideals. Under a Trump presidency, I expect more efficient spending and lowered national debt, I expect less government involvement in business, and I expect more tolerance and support for Christians. Under a Hillary presidency, I would expect more of the Obama administration’s policies, lots of spending, lots of taxes, and intolerance."
12. Ximena Barreto of Poway, California
"I was born in Bogota, Colombia, and came to the States in 2006. I work in real estate, but my passion is the law. I would like one day to have a law degree, like my sister. It's a bad period for the States, too much homelessness, America is not a safe place anymore. There's too much immigration. If you don't have a visa in Mexico you go to jail, but not here in the States. Illegals will be freed, and they'll give them a house, too. And with my taxes! Many companies have moved to Mexico — the taxes there are lower than here and we are losing many job opportunities. Trump is a genius with money; he has more than 500 companies. He's saying what people want to say, but they are afraid to say."
13. Omar Navarro of Torrance, California
“My family asks how I can support Donald Trump even though I’m Hispanic. Trump was my hero growing up. I used to want to be either the president or a businessman. I like his career. Even though Trump inherited so much money, he created something bigger. He’s respected by the marketing and real estate industries. He has influence and name recognition all over the world. He is a household name. He is not afraid of who he is — he is himself."
14. Anita Hynds of Yorba Linda, California
“I’m voting for Donald Trump because I know he's a fighter and a smart person. He's going to make the revolution that we need in this country. He's the leader that we were looking for. He's very determined, and he knows what he's going to do. People are afraid because of the invasion of aliens. Even myself, I'm jeopardizing myself talking about this. They just trespass, we don't know who they are. They can kill us and nobody knows who they are. That's why we don't like illegals, but it's not their fault. Our representatives let them come in here, trespass here, present documents that aren't real. They help them instead of helping us. We are practically slaves of our representatives. Donald Trump is going to change that completely."
15. Luis Cavazos of Brownsville, Texas
"Even though Trump has made some controversial statements, I believe he is sincere in helping the country economically. His stance on immigration is tough, but we need to slow down, if not stop, the coming in of immigrants illegally. The numbers are getting to be more and more, and there does not seem to be an end to it. The world is not a safe place anymore, as we have seen from the recent attacks in France and Orlando, Florida, to name only a few. I think Trump will address these security issues. As for the border wall, we do need to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, but Trump may have to look closer at the wall we do have and understand that it has not stopped immigration."
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