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Border & Immigration

Trump's Laredo Border Tour Draws The Ire Of Many Hispanics

Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio
Donald Trump speaks to supporters and law enforcement at a private event in Laredo

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump didn’t acknowledge the Hispanic indignation that confronted him on the Texas-Mexico border in Laredo. 

At the World Trade Bridge in Laredo, a half a football field from the US-Mexico border, Donald Trump told reporters he would win the Republican presidential nomination with the help of the Hispanic vote.  He referenced a political poll that shows him leading Republican contenders with more than 20 percent support.

“They just did a big poll in Nevada, the state of Nevada, and I’m way ahead. More importantly, as far as I'm concerned, I’m way, way ahead with the Hispanics, well into the thirties, I think second is like 11, so I have a great relationship,” Trump told reporters.

Trump’s confidence in attracting Hispanic voters flies in the face of push-back he’s received after characterizing Mexican immigrants as rapists, murderers, and drug smugglers.

A mostly Latino crowd of 200 protesters met Trump’s plane as it landed at the Laredo International Airport. Aldolpho Gonzales said he is strongly offended by Trump’s comments.

“We’re in America, and you’re free to say whatever you want, but as presidential candidate, he should be more reserved as to what he says,” said Gonzales.

Ben Morales was also at the airport holding an American flag. But he has a different view.  He says Trump’s

Credit Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
Ben Morales holds up an American flag in support, he says, of Trump's right to free speech.

   comments about illegal immigration are needed.

“It is corrupt over there in Mexico and it’s a shame we cannot go over there anymore like we used to back then,” Morales said. “It’s been close to 10 years since we’ve gone to visit the border because of all the violence going on in Mexico.”

Trump said he was invited to Laredo by the local chapter of the border patrol union, which cancelled participation in Trump’s visit. Even so, the Republican billionaire was the talk of Laredo and Webb County which is more than 90 percent Hispanic and solidly Democratic.

And the talk wasn’t always flattering.

At Laredo Sportswear, Anabelly Sanchez called Trump a hypocrite for visiting a border town after insulting Hispanic immigrants.

“For him to say that all immigrants are criminals and whatnot, it’s like he’s talking about my parents and knowing the hard work that they’ve done so far. It’s indignant and not fair,” Sanchez, one of the store’s employees, said.

There were a few who felt like Trump was talking truth about illegal immigration.

“Everybody that sneaks into the U.S. is a criminal because they broke the law,” Martin said. “So if that means they came here illegally they broke the law and then you catch multiple deportees that are felons,” said Dick Allen, a 25-year resident of Laredo.

Trump ended his tour in Laredo by meeting privately with local law enforcement.

“People realize the problem we have in this country with illegal immigration and it’s going to be solved.  It’s going to be fixed and this group will do such a job,” Trump told a packed room of supporters. “If they’re allowed to do their job, there’s no doubt it will be taken care of.”

It’s not likely that Trump’s border trip healed hard feelings created by his previous comments. But in the race for president Trump again captured the day’s headlines. At least 70 reporters crammed into the media buses that followed the billionaire during the few hours he spent on the border.