Donald Trump began his presidential campaign with a speech that included reference to people entering into the United States from the Mexican border without proper documentation. As part of that reference, Trump stated that this flow of people into the United States includes undesirable individuals with serious criminal histories—including rapists, murdered and drug dealers.
Trump’s rhetoric caused something of a firestorm over the issue of illegal immigration into the United States. While it is accurate to state that there are people with violent criminal pasts entering into the United States across the Mexican border, the vast majority of people who make the crossing without proper legal authority are otherwise law-abiding people intent on improving their lives.
Undocumented People in the United States
The most commonly circulated estimate of undocumented foreign nationals in the United States indicated there are about 11 million people in this category. Some experts on the subject contend the number is actually higher. Nearly no one involved in this issue believes the head count falls below 11 million people.
Because of the nature of the debate, and the focus on the Mexico-U.S. border, the discussion and debate over the matter of undocumented people in the United States does tend to focus on Mexican nationals here without proper papers. The reality is that vast majority of these 11 million people are likely Mexican nationals. However, it is important to note a portion of this total are people from other countries, including what is thought to be a fairly large number from Asian nations.
The Latino Vote Generally
As of 2013, Latinos accounted for 17 percent of the total U.S. population. There are 54 million Latinos in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Over the past generation, Latinos became the largest ethnic minority in the United States. Within the next generation, it is estimated that Latinos will account for nearly one-third of all people in the United States.
Latinos are a powerful voting block. As a segment of U.S. society, they are highly interested in issues involving undocumented Latinos, including Mexicans, in the United States.
Trump and the Latino Vote
Capturing the Latino vote provides a candidate the ability to sway an election. In other words, if Trump is unable to capture a respectable share of those Latinos who are Republican in the primary, he may find himself without a pathway to the nomination. If he does become the nominee of the GOP, he will need to garner a decent percentage of Latino voters to win the race to the White House.
In order to make at least some headway with Latino voters, Trump needs to recognize that his rhetoric regarding undocumented people in the United States needs to change. He speaks of rounding up undocumented people and rather summarily shipping them off to their homelands.
Although enforcing the laws of this country does have appeal with many voters, Americans generally, and Latinos specifically when it comes to this issue, desire a humane response to the issue of undocumented people in the U.S. This necessarily requires Trump to publicly recognize more regularly the fact that hard-working, generally law-abiding people are part of the undocumented individuals in country at this time. It also necessitates Trump speaking to a more humane program of addressing the issue of the 11 million undocumented men, women and children currently in the United States.