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What Latinos Know About America And Trump Doesn’t

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What Latinos Know About America And Trump Doesn’t

An anti-Trump demonstrator protests outside the venue where Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Anaheim, California U.S. May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake

News from the campaign trail has Latinos across America cringing.

It happens every time a scene like this splashes across the news: Protesters went plumb loco outside a Donald Trump rally in Albuquerque, N.M. Waving Mexican flags, they lobbed rocks at police, set fires, pushed aside barriers and generally acted like little hooligans.

The outburst was followed by the inevitable. Cable news talking heads, as they always do, wondered why the protesters were so angry.

Really? The United States is veering shockingly close to electing as president a man whose version of “making America great again” includes scapegoating some of the very people who helped make the country so incredible  — Latino immigrants.

That’s the problem. That this has to be explained. And, no, this is not an excuse for the riotous behavior of a few.

Most Hispanics know such out-of-control displays of emotion will not help. Decapitating a Trump piñata might feel good — a symbolic display of cultural fury. But when it’s televised, such an act merely lends credibility to Trump’s innuendo that Latinos are interlopers intent on mayhem and criminality.

Nothing could be further from the truth — even for those who arrive here without all the legal paperwork. If you want to find someone willing to literally die to become an American, find a recent Latino immigrant. Talk to the Central Americans who risked their lives to cross through multiple countries, hoping to gain asylum in the U.S.

They can tell you about yearning for the dignity and freedoms America, privileges that so many third-, fourth- or nth-generation Americans take for granted.

Latinos have some of the highest rates of service in the U.S. military. They are highly entrepreneurial, creating businesses wherever they settle.

In a nation that so prides itself of being created from immigrant stock, an awful lot of Americans are naive about migration. Many of Trump’s supporters are unaware that their own forefathers did not arrive here with documents in hand, not like what is required now, a system that didn’t even exist until recent decades.

Nor did their ancestors instantly master English. Rather, they followed the same patterns of language assimilation that we observe among Latinos today. Adult immigrants rarely become proficient in English, but their children become bilingual. Following generations are monolingual — in English.

The process of assimilation is a blessing and a curse. It helps bind us together as a nation: one people from many sources. But as we lose our accents and the stigma of origins in another country, we tend to lose contact with a certain historical truth: Not everybody is welcomed in America. America might admit them for their cheap labor, but if these immigrants want to get a piece of the American dream they’re going to have to fight for it.

When you’re ignorant of what previous generations went through to become Americans, it’s easy to believe the sort of isolationist screeds that Trump preaches.

Following the New Mexico melee, Trump headed to the heavily Latino Anaheim, Calif., for another rally. The Los Angeles Times reported that warm-up speakers told stories about loved ones who had been murdered by immigrants not legally in the U.S. Trump followed up by leading his supporters in a chant of “Build that wall!” the Times reported.

Never mind that much of border control is better managed by drones and high-tech sensors and the dull monotony of paperwork. Also ignore the fact that so many of the workers who keep California’s agriculture and restaurant industry humming crossed that border at some point. Trump has a simple, effective message for the ignorant of America: Immigrants are murderers and rapists, and my wall will keep you safe from them.

By the week’s end, Trump had reached the threshold of enough delegates to clinch the GOP nomination. Latinos have taken notice. Reports from around the country are of an increase in Latino migrants moving from legal permanent residency to full U.S. citizenship. They are registering to vote. And many cite Trump’s obnoxious anti-immigrant slogans as the impetus.

Wouldn’t it be rich if these new Americans proved to be the voting bloc that shut Trump out of the White House?

These novice voters embody a truth: Donald Trump not only lacks presidential credentials; he fails to understand what makes America great. Latino immigrants do, and that’s why so many proudly become Americans.

Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or via e-mail at msanchez@kcstar.com.


Photo: An anti-Trump demonstrator protests outside the venue where Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Anaheim, California U.S. May 25, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Blake

Mary Sanchez

Mary Sanchez has spent years covering immigration, schools, and other volatile beats for The Kansas City Star. She is now an editorial columnist for the Star, where she continues to offer insightful commentary on immigration, culture, and politics.

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  1. Dominick Vila May 27, 2016

    The illegal immigration problem could be fixed on short notice by simply changing the current immigration laws to satisfy our labor demands. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen any time soon, not because it is too difficult to do, but because of fear of a backlash from white supremacists.

    The current laws simply do not address our needs, and are a major contributor to the problem we have been having for several decades. The main problems are:
    1. Insufficient number of entry visas issued to semi-skilled or unskilled workers to allow legal entry, even though we need labor to satisfy demand in areas where most Americans are unwilling to work. Either because of poor working conditions or low remuneration.
    2. Arbitrary visa caps that don’t take into consideration our needs in specific sectors of our economy, and have created backlogs that result in some applicants having to wait decades before they are allowed to enter the USA legally.
    3. Wage and benefits violations by unscrupulous employers.

    4. The current political climate is not conducive to implement the changes that are needed.
    5. Budget cuts resulted in significant reductions in staffing throughout the Federal government, making it almost impossible for its departments and agencies to function effectively.
    6. Ethnic and cultural prejudices
    The irony is that if it weren’t for the incendiary rhetoric we hear from so many Republicans, and especially from Trump, a large percentage of legal Hispanics-Latinos would probably register Republican. Most are deeply religious, family oriented, oppose abortion, save for a rainy day, often start small businesses, and have high work ethics.

    1. Saundra Southern May 28, 2016

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      1. John Irby May 29, 2016

        Jesus was a pedophile. In addition to that, he drank too much beer and ate too much pizza. Okay, I’m only kidding. Jesus was, and is, a mythological critter.

  2. Elgranreyes May 28, 2016

    I’m proud of my achievements as a Latino immigrant, learning English among them. I appreciate this country’s greatest strengths, liberty, opportunity and diversity. The entire problem of illegal immigration could have been fixed by now if republicans had chosen to actually negotiate with president Obama and come up with a compromise, but instead this party prefers strife over dialogue, theatrics and demagoguery at all levels over sound policy. They chose to insult the president by questioning his citizenship. There’s nothing wrong with being a Kenyan, for instance, but Republicans use it as an insult. Those of us who really are immigrants are alarmed that a party seeks to use our lives as a means to stir up their base of haters. Then, they’re surprised that we refuse to vote for them. Good luck in November, GOP. You lost my vote long ago.

    1. bikejedi May 28, 2016

      It excuse me but that is not accurate . Obama had a Dem majority his first two years and could’ve passed any immigration bill he wanted. He and the Dems chose not to do that because they knew any amnesty for illegals was hugely unpopular with Americans as well as being patently unfair to everyone who came here legally or was waiting to come gere legally . So they punted and then Obama shunned that he was powerless to do anything . He claimed for years, and he was correct , that he couldn’t grant amnesty through Executive Order because it is UnConstitutional . Then right after the GOP took the Senate in the 2014 midterms but before they could be sworn in he circumvented the rules of Congress and the Constitution and did it through Executive Order even though the GOP told him they were willing to pass a bill with him . No this entirely on Obama. .

      1. Independent1 May 28, 2016

        Outright lies!! In the past 20 years the Dems have only had 3 -4.5 months (from when Ted Kennedy died on 8/15/09 until Scott Brown took his place on 1/1/10) enough control of Congress to keep Emperor Mitch from using his fake filibuster to kill every piece of legislation the Dems wanted to enact!!

        Sorry lowlife!! BUT AS USUAL!! EVERYTHING YOU POST IS A LIE!!!!!!!!

        (I say 3-4.5 months because it took a while to replace Ted and Congress was up in airs after his death and not much got accomplished.)

        1. bikejedi May 28, 2016

          Independent you are intolerant ignorant of facts and totally immature. Obama and the Dems had majorities in both the House and Senate and didn’t even try to do anything on immigration . Please stop lying and gain maturity

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          ——– Original message ——–

          1. Independent1 May 28, 2016

            You’re such a pathological lying creep that I even hesitate to blog with you – talk about being immature – you need to go back and play in your sandbox. You’re just like a six-year old bully who relies on lying to try and get his way all the time.

            Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on the development of ACA (Obamacare), which makes it clear that the Dems did not have ENOUGH CONTROL of congress in 2009 to get much of anything done until Al Franken won the contested senate seat in Minnesota which was decided in July of 2009; and Ted Kennedy died about 1 month later on 8/15 depriving the Dems of the 60 votes they needed to override Mitch’s fake filibuster threats to keep the Dems from accomplishing whatever he could stop (remember, Mitch used the fake filibuster more than 425 times).

            See this creep from Wikipedia:

            At the start of the 111th Congress, Democrats had only 58 votes; the Senate seat in Minnesota ultimately won by Al Franken was still undergoing a recount, and Arlen Specter was still a Republican.

            To reach 60 votes, negotiations were undertaken to satisfy the demands of moderate Democrats, and to try to bring several Republican senators aboard; particular attention was given to Bob Bennett, Mike Enzi, Chuck Grassley, and Olympia Snowe. Negotiations continued even after July 7 — when Franken was sworn into office, and by which time Specter had switched parties — due to disagreements over the substance of the bill, which was still being drafted in committee, and because moderate Democrats hoped to win bipartisan support. Then, on August 25, before the bill could come up for a vote, Ted Kennedy—a longtime healthcare reform advocate—died, depriving Democrats of their 60th vote.


          2. bikejedi May 29, 2016

            What in the hell does Obamacare have to do with immigration ? . Stop lying and defending your Dems. They didn’t even try to pass anything because they didn’t want the political back wash on the issue. In essence they pandered and lied to Latinos and then did nothing . Those are the facts of the matter . Look , since you brought up Obamacare you have to know they rammed that evil bill down Anericas throat without any Republicans they could’ve done the same on immigration

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            ——– Original message ——–

          3. Independent1 May 29, 2016

            And more lying deflection from an absolute CREEP!! The Obamacare documentation substantiates my contention that the Dems had only a few months of a majority in 2009 to get anything passed and much of that was broken up by Ted Kennedy’s death and trying to replace him and the disruption that caused in the senate. YOU ARE A PATHETIC ABSOLUTE CREEP!!!

          4. bikejedi May 29, 2016

            You cant even admit when you are wrong . I don’t have time for you immaturity. It’s nice out I’m going to a party / BBQ. You know , real American stuff . I’m getting a freedom boner. You have fun hating America .

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          5. Independent1 May 29, 2016

            Be careful slithering under that rock for your party, creep!

          6. bikejedi May 29, 2016

            You can’t even go one comment without losing your mind and going right to name calling. Imnature yet typical . You always know you’ve won a debate with a Liberal when they resort to name calling . Well at least you haven’t used the Liberal race card ….yet ….

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            ——– Original message ——–

        2. It was actually 58 days

          1. Independent1 May 29, 2016

            Thanks for the substantiation.

  3. bikejedi May 28, 2016

    Unfortunately for the left Trump is starting to poll better and better with Latinos. It seems he does well with the ones that are here legally who work and pay taxes.

    1. Joan July 2, 2016

      That is something you want to be true, rather than something that is true. Trump is deep underwater with ALL minorities and women.

      1. bikejedi July 2, 2016

        Negative . The polling shows he is doing rather well with working Latinos . If course people who dont work will always vote Democrat no matter the race .

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        ——– Original message ——–

  4. Beethoven May 28, 2016

    If your ancestors were Irish, German, Italian, Polish, Greek, or almost any nationality other than English, when they first immigrated to America, they were distrusted and vilified much the same way as the Trumpers are vilifying Hispanics today. Also, if only a few events in history had turned out differently, the English-speaking whites of European descent might today be the outsiders in most of the southwestern United States, as well as Florida, and the Hispanics might be the established majority.


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