None of the businesses pictured here – nor any of the dozens of other similarly-named ones across the country – have any connection to a certain presidential candidate known for putting his name on just about everything. But that hasn't stopped them from getting swept up in the campaign and Trump's frequent firestorms over immigrants, women, abortion and nuclear war.
LOS ANGELES -- It was Sept. 15, 2015 and Jorge Herrera was watching the televised event of Donald Trump speaking to a boisterous crowd aboard the retired battleship USS Iowa.
In the midst of the celebration, Herrera spotted a few women waving homemade signs proclaiming, “Latinos for Trump.” An idea was born.
“There was not a lot of public Latino support and it gave me the idea to get the message out on social media,” said Herrera, a 31-year-old critical care nurse. “I decided to call it Latinos With Trump and the campaign gave us permission to use the style of its logo. We work directly with the campaign and it’s become really big, we’ve had people contact us from all over the U.S. and other countries as well.”
Herrera is a lifelong Californian whose parents are naturalized citizens. He didn’t like the Democratic polices that he claims have been turning his state into a bankrupt haven for illegal immigration and Herrera saw Hillary Clinton as someone mirroring President Obama’s policies.
Pretty soon he had a social media director for the group’s website, Twitter, Facebook , YouTube and Instagram pages along with 600 volunteers who conduct outreach to other states by phone and social media and help stage weekly rallies. Besides Republicans, Latinos With Trump said it was finding supporters among Bernie Sanders voters, Democrats and people who normally don’t vote. Altogether, its pages have generated 2.2 million views.
Leticia Nevarez manages the social media from San Diego, a county with 33 percent Hispanic/Latino population. She says the assumption by Clinton and most media outlets that minorities don’t like Trump is flat out wrong.
“For the most part, there is a huge silent majority who support Trump – I hear Hispanics say they aren’t voting for Hillary because they don’t trust her,” Nevarez said. “I think they are the silent majority. They won’t say that to their friends and won’t say it in public. It’s because she is not for traditional family values and as Catholics we believe that life is important.”
To that end, Herrera said he has found some unlikely Latino Trump supporters: his gardener, who speaks broken English, and several Latino blue collar workers at his job site including a janitor and plumber.
“Hillary is using the same technique that Democrats have been using for years,” said Lilli Arauz, a communications volunteer with Trump’s California campaign. “They want to use minorities as a tool. I am not a piece of a chess game. I am not a tool for you to use me to get into power and come back to me four years later. They think they are entitled to our vote. They want us to sell our soul to the party.”
Members of Latinos With Trump say they are tired of hearing the world “racist” attributed to the minority thought process and believe it’s actually the other way around.
Clinton and her campaign “want to capture and acquire Mexican Americans and own Hispanic loyalty. That’s racist to market and own us,” Herrera said.
Arauz, a naturalized citizen, grew up in Panama under the dictatorship of Manuel Noriega and experienced what it’s like to be so politically correct that freedoms were taken away, she said. People who demonstrated or spoke out about the regime would often disappear, taken to prison and never heard from again.
“This fear started with President Obama that you cannot say what you need to say because it’s not politically correct,” she said. “PC. Everything is PC. That’s why I support Mr. Trump, everything is not PC, he is telling things the way they are. The way the government should go. I agree with him. If we don’t stop these problems now, we are not going to have a country.”
And being from Latin America, she is familiar with issues in Mexico.
“Mexico is very racist against the people who come from South or Central America and they don’t want to have them come into Mexico,” she said. “Mexicans mistreat people who are in their country illegally yet they come here and want all our social programs. All this is hypocrisy; that is why I cannot support Mrs. Clinton.”
Democrats misjudge Latinos by not seeing them as a voting bloc that cares of issues facing other Americans: border security, the economy and a loss of jobs, the group says.
“The bottom line is, we have $2.4 billion-a-day deficit. Obama has been in position for 8 years, he has failed. His policies have failed. You can’t run your household on that,” said volunteer Felix Veiga, 64, a real estate developer. “We cannot have any more illegals here of any race. We can’t afford it. We don’t have the proper safety procedures to properly vet the people where it’s safe.”
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Tori Richards is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.