Posted on October 24, 2020

Why These NJ Latinos Are Voting for Trump, Despite His Anti-Immigrant Attacks

Monsy Alvarado,, October 21, 2020

Marcos Marte supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016. But after the bitter Democratic primary that left Hillary Clinton as the party’s presidential nominee, the son of Dominican immigrants cast his ballot for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

This year, Marte, 27, of Union City, will complete an even longer political journey: He’s voting for President Donald Trump, attracted by the Republican Party’s “Judeo-Christian” values and the president’s economic record before the coronavirus hit. He says he also likes Trump’s plans for securing the southern border and restricting illegal immigration.

“We have to elevate ourselves and I think Donald Trump is the only president that I’ve seen in my adult life that is putting America’s citizens’ values front forward,” said Marte, who works in the banking industry. {snip}

Marte is a member of what may be the most surprising voting bloc in 2020: Latinos who say they’re backing Trump despite four years of restrictive immigration policies and what many call racist invective aimed toward Hispanic people. {snip}

{snip} One Quinnipiac University poll last month had Trump leading Joe Biden among Latinos in the battleground state of Florida by 45% to 43%, though the difference was within the margin of error.


In interviews, Latinos who back Trump cite the president’s business background and the record employment numbers for Black and Hispanic Americans before the pandemic. They like the take-no-prisoners “energy” he brings to the office, even if that combative style has turned off other voters.

Fernando Alonso, an attorney from Oradell whose parents emigrated from Cuba decades ago, said the violence that’s broken out at some racial justice protests has also turned off voters who may have memories of unstable, violent regimes in their home countries. {snip}

“Safety is really important to them,” said Alonso, who leads the Bergen County Hispanic Republican Association. “When they see those things on television, the riots, it’s not something they came to the United States to be part of.”


Still, the president has supporters like Kennith Gonzalez, 19, whose father escaped Cuba on a raft he built in 1994. Gonzalez, a product of the Cuban American community that’s flourished in and around Union City, will vote in his first presidential election next month and cast his ballot for Trump.

A political science student at Seton Hall University, Gonzalez said Latinos he speaks to often cite the economy as their main issue, and he points to the improved jobless rate as well as gains in the stock market during Trump’s first term.


Gonzalez said he’s in favor of immigration reform that would make it easier for people to come to the United States lawfully, acknowledging that the country’s current system forces many to wait years before they can become legal residents.

But Trump wasn’t entirely wrong when he spoke of some undocumented immigrants being criminals, said Gonzalez, who chairs Union City’s Republican Committee. {snip}

“If you go and speak to somebody who is not here legally, who works and pays taxes and really loves America and really loves what we stand for, they are very angry at the reputation that illegal immigrants have here in America,” he said. {snip}


Marte said he was more interested four years ago in how he would pay for college. That led him to Sanders, who ran on lowering student loan interest rates and free tuition for state colleges and universities.

Now, other issues have become important to him. He supports Trump’s plan to build a wall along the Mexican border to stop sex trafficking and drug smuggling. Even under Trump’s stricter immigration policies, he said, members of his extended family have been able to move to the United States legally.