El Paso, Texas – Donald Trump’s unexpected victory on Tuesday sent waves of uncertainty and fear along the U.S.-Mexico border — and some waves of relief.
The next day, the non-governmental organization Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) in El Paso held an emotional press conference to address the issue of an imminent Trump presidency, one that is expected to toughen up all immigration-related policies.
“We tried to prepare ourselves for potential results of the elections,” said BNHR’s executive director Fernando Garcia. “But I need to be very honest and tell you we were not prepared for this.”
On the other side of town, many Hispanic Republicans had a noticeable pep in their step as they went about their day, victorious. There were still cups and chairs all around the office where they held a watch party the night before.
But El Paso County is heavily Democrat, so looks of concern and disappointment are predominant.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton took almost 80 percent of the vote here, beating Trump by more than 40 points. That is nearly 10 points more than the margin with which President Obama beat Senator John McCain in 2008 and Governor Mitt Romney in 2012.
Susie Byrd, a trustee for a local school district, said she’s very proud of the results on a local level but very concerned about Trumps national victory.
“We lost this election. But we cannot accept the consequences of what this election will mean for our community,” she said.
One of the biggest concerns among Hispanics who went to the BNHR press conference on Wednesday was deportation; specifically deportation that would result in immediate family members becoming separated.
“We’re subject to violent immigration practices that tear families apart, and for immigrants like me [we’re subject] to live in the shadows,” said Claudia Yoli, Communication Director for state Senator Jose Rodriguez.
She said she attended the press conference not in her official capacity, but to tell her immigration story. Yoli said she is currently in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive action passed by President Obama that Trump has said he will repeal.
But Republicans insist law-abiding residents will not be deported, only those who have broken the law. “We want them deported if they are criminals,” said Bob Pena, an El Paso County Republican. “But if they’ve been law-abiding illegal citizens, illegal residents raising a family, they shouldn’t be concerned.”
Republicans also believe Trump will be an inclusive president.
“The first words out of the president-elect’s mouth were [about] bringing the country together, inclusiveness,” said Pena. “He said ‘I’m going to be the president for all of America’.”
Yet Republicans say they understand many of their concerns.
“I understand the fear. I think a large part of that fear has been generated by the press,” said Adolpho Telles, Chairman of El Paso’s Republican Party. “Because the press has taken a large part of the worst from both sides and repeated it again and again and again.”
Ray Bogan is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in El Paso, Texas. Follow him on twitter: @RayBogan