Presidential rally spurs discussion of Latino conservatives on campus



President Trump excites a crowd at the Rio Rancho Rally held Sept. 16. Photo Courtesy Albuquerque Journal. (Greg Sorber)

Following President Donald Trump’s rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico on Sept. 16, a series of tweets surfaced criticizing Latino supporters in attendance.

Accusations ranged from Latino supporters being paid to be there and stand behind the camera to being spray tanned in order to “look the part.”

Dante Archibeque, a member of the New Mexico State University College Democrats, said that while he doesn’t necessarily agree with the ideas espoused by conservatism, there is nothing wrong with the idea of it. Archibeque attributed the backlash felt at times by Hispanic conservatives and other minorities from their own communities to the need for conservatives now to support the president regardless of his actions.

“The problem, I believe, stems from fighting for a party that doesn’t believe in those issues anymore. Having a party that validates racism and uses fear to get votes is no ‘conservative’ party in my eyes,” Archibeque said.

While having visited El Paso twice in the last year, Trump has not returned to New Mexico since 2016. During the rally, he claimed that he would be campaigning for every vote in hopes of making New Mexico a Republican state. Though ranked ninth in the nation in terms of its Hispanic population, New Mexico has the largest “statewide population share,” with 48 percent of all residents being of Hispanic descent.

Pew Research Center estimates that 32 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election. For the first time, Hispanics are expected to account for the largest racial or ethnic minority at 13 percent of the total vote. According to data collected by the Pew Research Center in 2018, over a quarter of Latinos identify as Republican, with 28 percent having voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. The last two presidential election cycles have seen similar turnouts.

Tori Makk, a member of the NMSU College Republicans and whose parents immigrated from South America, said most Latinos do not realize that they have been raised with conservative values.

“In many Latino households, there’s a huge emphasis on family, religion and working hard in order to improve your situation,” Makk said.

When discussing the massive influx of immigrants received in recent years during the rally, Trump said those affected most included Hispanic Americans.

“And among those hardest hit by illegal immigration are Hispanic Americans who obey our laws, pay their taxes, contribute to our communities and play by the rules. They’re the ones that want to see something done and we are doing it at a level that nobody else would be capable of doing it,” Trump said.

Regarding immigration, Makk stated that the Republican Party is not “anti-immigrant” but “anti-illegal immigration” and acts in the way that it does as a protective measure for American citizens.

“Republican lawmakers seek to protect American citizens from the inflow of drugs, illegal weapons and human trafficking that can and do occur through illegal border crossings,” Makk said.

Ever Vidaña, also a member of the NMSU College Republicans, said he has had only positive experiences with the conservative movement, yet has been called a number of derogatory names as a result of his beliefs by those who disagree with him.

“Latino conservatives are marginalized because the media and other entities have portrayed a bad image of who we really are,” Vidaña said.

Makk shared a similar experience, stating that the people she has received the most scorn from have been those whose political ties differ from her own.

“They claim to be the accepting crowd. They support diversity until it’s diversity of thought,” Makk said.

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