Stock Daily Dish, November 24, 2019
Pasqual Urrabazo, a pastor at the International Church of Las Vegas, has been to the White House twice in the last month to voice his support for President Donald Trump’s proposal to beef up security at the U.S. border with Mexico.
One of those occurred on Jan. 25, when he and his wife, also a pastor at the western Las Vegas church, were among nine Hispanic pastors who endorsed Trump’s push to build a border wall at a White House-sponsored roundtable discussion.
“I am an immigrant from Mexico,” Urrabazo’s wife, Norma, told Trump at the meeting, “and also the daughter of an immigrant from Mexico. And I just wanted you to know that you have not only my support but you have the support of our community.”
The 57-year-old Mexican-American minister, who was born in Utah, and his wife, 48, both of whom minister to the Spanish-speaking portion of the congregation at the nondenominational “multicultural” International Church of Las Vegas, may defy stereotypes about Hispanic sentiments on the president’s controversial border policies. But they say that better security would benefit Hispanic Americans and undocumented immigrants alike.
Trump opened last month’s roundtable meeting by boasting about a recent Marist/NPR/PBS poll that showed that his approval rating had spiked by 19 percent to 50 percent among Latinos. He attributed the bump to the strong economy and his stand on border security.
But Barbara Carvalho, director of the poll, told PBS that that the number of Latino Americans within the larger survey of 153 people was so small that the results could be off by nearly 10 percent in either direction.
For his part, Pastor Mario Sandoval of Waco, Texas, said Trump’s border wall was popular among those attending the event: “We’re not for open borders. We’re for secure borders, because we know that it’s going to bring resolution to a lot of the things that people go through.”
Urrabazo said that his church has been active in trying to protect vulnerable youth — immigrant and American-born — from criminal gangs. He said he supports the border wall because “we need to secure our border,” stop the trafficking of drugs, discourage gang activity and put an end to human trafficking.
The Urrabazos discussed how their faith has informed their support for Trump. For Pasqual Urrabazo, the goal is to keep his community safe.
Norma Urrabazo, who still visits her native Mexico twice a year, spoke of receiving a hate letter that called her a traitor. But she said it did not deter her. “I’m called to stand with him,” she said of Trump.
Having spoken with Trump on four occasions now, she said, “You see the humanitarian side of him,” adding, “He just wants to do what’s best for the nation.”
Trump visited the International Church of Las Vegas in October 2016, where Senior Associate Pastor Denise Goulet prayed over him and Pasqual Urrabazo blessed him.
A recent Pew Research poll found that 69 percent of Latino voters supported Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, and 29 percent voted for Republicans.