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GOP Hispanics Dump Trump After Arizona Immigration Speech

Some Latinos who had supported Donald Trump gave up on him after the GOP nominee gave a get tough on immigrants speech in Arizona.
Image: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo AllegriCARLO ALLEGRI / Reuters

The hope that some Hispanics were holding onto that Donald Trump could be compassionate toward immigrants vanished with his speech in Arizona.

Some Latinos who were backing him or hoped to couldn't justify being in his corner after what they saw as him unleashing law enforcement on immigrants, regardless of whether they were criminals or had lived in the country for years, raised families and paid taxes.

"Awful!" said Massey Villarreal, a Houston businessman who had opposed Trump, then supported him and was done with him after Wednesday's speech. "As a compassionate conservative, I am disappointed with the immigration speech.

RELATED: Alfonso Aguilar Feels 'Misled' on Trump's Immigration Plan

"I'm going to flip, but not flop. I am no longer supporting Trump for president, but cannot with any conscience support Hillary (Clinton)," Villarreal told NBC Latino Wednesday night.

For almost two weeks, some Republican Hispanics have been wading through the spin that Trump and his campaign were putting out on his immigration policies.

RELATED: Latinos Looking for 'Compassion,' Clarity in Trump Speech

After meeting with him Aug. 20 at his home, some believed he had heard their concerns about the statements he'd made about immigrants and his plans to make them all leave the country. Some thought he might even offer a form of legalization.

Jacob Monty, who had been at the meeting and advising Trump on Hispanics, also told NBC Latino that he is no longer supporting Trump. Monty is an immigration attorney from Houston who also chairs the Latino-Jewish Alliance.

"I am convinced that Donald Trump listens to whomever speaks to him last," Monty said. He said groups who advocate for harsh immigration enforcement such as FAIR and Numbers USA "must have spent time with him after he returned from Mexico and he listened to them."

He said GOP Latinos who met with Trump almost two weeks ago gave him a plan that was "strong on security, that was very compassionate." The plan called for a reprieve from deportation from those already in the country. "He didn't even listen," Monty said.

The speech Trump gave, he said, left him wondering whether meeting with the Hispanic Republicans "was a cynical scheme to use us as props like he used the Mexican president as a prop," said Monty.

"The problem with Donald Trump and the reason I wanted to act swiftly (after the speech) is you don't want this guy as president. He listens to whomever speaks to him last and that's dangerous," he said.

Despite his break from Trump, Monty said he won't vote for Clinton, because "there are many people in her camp who don't want to solve this immigration problem."

Massey and Monty had been part of a group that publicly condemned Trump and later Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for their immigration platforms and comments. They had been backers of Jeb Bush and when he was out, tried to assist other candidates such as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., but Trump ultimately won the nomination. As loyal Republicans, they had hoped they could back Trump and were part of a group during the Republican convention that gave him their support.

Artemio "Temo" Muniz, head of the Texas Federation of Hispanic Republicans, also was part of the group and was trying to decide whether to support Trump. He decided against it after the speech. In his speech, Trump doubled down on the "same losing strategy that has given the Democrats the White House since 2008," Muniz said.

"Trump's campaign clearly does not want the Hispanic vote and thinks it can win without it," he said. "In my opinion, the only thing that can save our party and our Republican candidates in down ballot races now is a Hillary Clinton collapse."

RELATED: GOP Hispanics Unite Against 'Demonizing' Of Latinos Before Debate

In Wednesday's speech, Trump said no one would be immune from deportation. He said he would revive two programs. One is a national fingerprinting program known as Secure Communities, in which the prints of anyone arrested against a federal database to check whether they were a citizen or an immigrant with permission to be here. He also said he'd renew the 287(g) program which used local law officers, such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to enforce immigration laws.

"We will set priorities, but unlike this administration, no one will be immune or exempt from enforcement and Border Patrol and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) will be allowed to do their jobs, the way their jobs are supposed to be done," Trump said.

In addition, he said, anyone arrested for "any crime whatsoever" would be detained until they could be removed, which he said would happen immediately "if we even have to do that."

He also called for an end to the executive actions of President Barack Obama that would shield an estimated 5 million immigrants here illegally from deportation and allow them to work. The programs are stalled in legal battles but apply to parents of U.S. citizen and legal resident children and to people who came as young children to the country.

Trump had led some to believe even up to a few hours before the speech that he might take the advice of Hispanics who had met with him and soften his policies and speech on immigrants.

Alfonso Aguilar, who has been acted as a spokesman for the group of Hispanics who opposed Trump and later endorsed him, said he felt disappointed and misled.

Trump met in Mexico early Wednesday with Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto and in comments expressed love for Mexcio's people and the many Mexican Americans he said he employs.

RELATED: Trump Meeting With Enrique Peña Nieto Not Likely to Sway Latinos

Trump has not lost all support from Latinos, some are still backing him, but polling has shown that about 75 percent of the Latino community opposes him.

Although many Hispanics support border security and the removal of people who commit serious crimes or crimes that would harm the public, many know or are related to someone who is not legally in the country, arrived in the past without legal permission or see the rhetoric and policies Trump has used or is proposing as an attack on the Latino community.

A decade ago, when a Republican-controlled House passed an immigration bill that was considered draconian in its enforcement measures, hundreds of thousands of people, many of them Latinos, protested in the streets of major U.S. cities against it. The massive protests also spawned a voting drive movement under the banner slogan of "Today we march, tomorrow we vote."

"Trump tripled-down on fear mongering," Angelica Salas, Coalition for Humane Rights of American Action Fund.

Angelica Salas, chair of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of America Action Fund, said viewers of Trump's Wednesday speech witnessed "the makings of a tyrant who is racist" in the speech.

"Trump tripled down on hate and fear-mongering," Salas said in a statement.

"A 10-point deportation plan is still mass deportation and the American public should see right through Trump's charade," she said.

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