POLITICS

Donald Trump’s style ruffles feathers, but some Latinos embrace it

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump waves after  arriving for a visit to the U.S. Mexico border in Laredo, Texas, Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump waves after arriving for a visit to the U.S. Mexico border in Laredo, Texas, Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

An Univision poll seeking Latino views on Donald Trump’s prickly comments about Mexico, and Mexicans who cross the border illegally, found that 80 percent said they were offensive.

While it is hardly surprising that Latinos see his comments as objectionable, what got little attention, but certainly was noteworthy, is that 1 out of 5 Latinos did not.

“We’ve overlooked the diversity of opinion in the Latino community,” said Lonna Rae Atkeson, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico. “They come from diverse economic and education backgrounds, they all have different experiences here.”

There are Latinos who do not go through the immigration process that most others born outside the country undergo – U.S.-born Latinos, including Puerto Ricans, who are U.S. citizens by birth, and Cuban-Americans, even those who head to this country without authorization, but get to remain in the United States if they reach U.S. shores.

“These different experiences affect their political positions,” Atkeson said.

The division among Latinos when it comes to Trump -- who launched his presidential campaign with a vitriolic missile that accused Mexico of sending its worst – was most recently evident when the mogul visited Laredo, Texas.

The Latino mayor and city manager of Laredo welcomed Trump in what they described as mostly an act of civility on their part, and appeared at his side at a press conference there.

Trump seemed to tone down the rhetoric of his campaign launch, talking about Mexico as a country that was doing well economically, and of Latinos as people he’s been happy to employ by the tens of thousands.

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz took to social media the day of Trump’s visit to say he’d welcome the presidential candidate to the city, and framed the visit as a chance to show the nation Laredo’s strengths.

Some, including U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat, chastised Saenz and other Laredo officials who appeared alongside Trump for allowing him to use them. Castro called it a sad day for Texas and Latinos.

But other Latinos defended the Laredo officials’ courteous treatment of Trump, saying that the firebrand spoke the truth when he complained of all the criminals, including rapists, whom he accused Mexico of dumping on the border.

Many took to social media to say they admired Trump for saying what they and many others they knew felt and expressed with their friends and relatives.

“I think he’s right,” said Jessica Gonzalez, 79, a retired housewife who was born and raised in Laredo.

Gonzalez, who is a Democrat, lamented how Laredo had changed, pointing to all the Mexican restaurants and new people coming in.

“I think he’s right,” she said. “All we have is people from foreign countries…It’s not like it used to be.”

“I want to go down and say: ‘Donald Trump, you’re on fire in Laredo! Because everybody feels what you think!’”

Outside Obregon's Mexican Restaurant, Enrique Harrington Ramon, 75, said he felt Spanish-speaking immigrants "take advantage of us" in Laredo, and said people are responding to what Trump says "because it's the truth."

"I am sick of walking into a store and hearing 'en que le puede ayudar?' What country are we in?" he said.

Others in this growing city of about 250,000, where 95.6 percent of the population identified as Hispanic or Latino in 2010, lashed out at Trump, who has refused to apologize for referring to Mexicans as rapists and criminals.

"I wish he wouldn't come down here," said Raul Gonzalez, 65, a retired trailer and truck mechanic who was born and raised in Laredo. "He's very disrespectful to Latinos."

In Nevada, a critical state in the GOP primaries – and the general election – Trump got some good news, which he noted in the Laredo press conference.

A poll conducted of GOP primary voters in Nevada by a conservative outfit, One America News Network, showed the mogul in first place, 31.4 percent, among Latinos. That was better than the 27.7 percent of overall GOP primary voters who gave him their nod.

Nevada Latinos may look to Trump’s campaign pledges regarding jobs with a different view than others who are looking at him through the prism of his offensive rhetoric, experts say.

USA Today said that, indeed, Trump’s “first test for Hispanic support will be in Nevada.”

Many Latinos in the state work in restaurants, hotels and casinos, the newspaper notes, “and that many of them are presumably familiar with the Trump brand, which they consider synonymous with ‘success.’”

Trump, therefore, the newspaper continued, “could get on a lucky streak in the Silver State,” which has one of the country’s highest shares of Latino voters.

In New Mexico, which is 40 percent Hispanic, the issue of immigration resonates differently among Latinos than it does in places such as Arizona, said Atkeson.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, is well-liked by Latinos there, even though she has conservative views on immigration, and made national headlines for opposing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

“Before Gov. Martinez talked about immigration, it really didn’t come up as an issue” in New Mexico political campaigns, Atkeson said.

“Top issues for voters across the board, regardless of race, are jobs and education and healthcare,” she said. “When I don’t have a job, do I vote on job issues, or make my choice on immigration issues? I’m going to care more about a job.”

Martinez, she said, appealed to many voters with her message about education.

And finally, said New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, there is the fact that many Latinos have conservative views regarding the border and illegal immigration, and while they may not think highly of Trump, his message about those topics strike a chord.

Some Latinos who came legally, he told the Los Angeles Times, “feel it is unfair that illegals would come here and cut the line.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.