A group of Latino conservatives who had previously been harsh critics of Donald Trump reversed their position Monday, saying that they will support the presumptive Republican candidate despite some clear reservations from some.
"In the past months, we have seen a terror attack in Orlando, we are seeing escalation of racial tensions, and we cannot afford to have another Democrat in the White House for an additional four years," Alfonso Aguilar, the head of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, told NBC News.
"Does that mean that Mr. Trump does not present a risk for the country if he becomes president? Of course not - he does! But Hillary would be much worse, a lot is riding on this election," said Aguilar.
In a statement, signed by Aguilar and several other Republican conservatives such as Texan Massey Villareal and Colorado Republican Jerry Natividad, they stated that "Trump can better address the terrorist threat we face because, contrary to Clinton, he is willing to acknowledge and address its root cause: radical Islamic fundamentalism." The statement was issued Tuesday morning at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
This comes as the first day of the Republican convention has as its focus "Make America Safe" and will include speeches by those who want crackdowns on immigrants who are in the country without legal documents and as the party closes in on a platform that calls for building a massive wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, which has been one of Trump's major campaign points since he announced his presidential bid.
Aguilar acknowledged other Hispanic Republicans are not joining their group and not all members of the coalition that during the primaries had publicly condemned Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz over their comments about immigrants and their deportation proposals joined in the endorsement of Trump.
"It has been very, very difficult," said Aguilar. "In the end, politics is the art of the possible. I have been involved in immigration for a long time; I don't believe Hillary Clinton is committed to immigration reform. I don't think they're going to get it done," he said.
Villarreal, a Houston businessman and Republican contributor was reached by NBC News in Israel. He said backing Trump is "the only way to make change."
"The only way I can make change is to be part of the equation and offer constructive dialogue. I coulnd't make change from the outside," he said. "I tried in the past and I wasn't able to."
Artemio "Temo" Muniz, chairman of the Federation of Texas Republicans who is attending the convention as a delegate for Cruz, declined to endorse Trump.
"I hope they can cause change within the campaign," he said.
Aguilar was one of the GOP Hispanics who was elevated during the Bush administration and worked on citizenship issues in an administration with a very different view of immigration than Trump. Members of the Bush family, including the two former presidents and recent presidential hopeful and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush are not attending the convention. At a news conference Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort said the Bush family was "part of the past."
Despite the group's announcement, most of the high-profile Hispanics in the GOP, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Florida's Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Rep. Carlos Curbelo are not attending the convention.