President Donald Trump said in an interview that he has "solved" Latinos' fears of being under attack by his administration.
Trump was asked in an interview with David Brody that aired on the Christian Broadcasting Network what message he had for Latinos that have some “trepidation, that think they are under attack by this administration.”
“Well, I think I’ve really solved that,” Trump said, “because you know the election was not that long ago and we had a great victory.”
Trump emphasized in the interview that he especially did well in the Cuban American community, saying he got 84 percent of that vote.
According to exit polls, Trump won 54 percent of the Cuban American vote in Florida, where two-thirds of people of Cuban descent live. Latino Decisions' election eve poll showed he got about 48 percent of the Cuban American vote nationally and 52 percent in Florida. Of the estimated 27.3 million Latinos eligible to vote in U.S. elections, about 1.2 million are of Cuban descent, according to Pew Research Center.
NBC Latino reached out to Helen Aguirre Ferré, White House director of media affairs, but has not received a response.
Trump boasted of his performance with Latino voters, which according to the latest exit poll update was about 28 percent, although Latino Decisions polling put it at about 18 percent.
If you go by the exit polls, Trump was correct in saying he did better with Latino voters than Mitt Romney, who won just 27 percent in his loss to former President Barack Obama in 2012. But Trump’s performance was a far drop from the estimated 35 percent and 44 percent of the Latino vote won by former President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, respectively and lower than Sen. John McCain’s 31 percent in 2008.
Trump also said he’s proud of his focus on the Latino community during the campaign. “They want protection and they want jobs and they don’t want people pouring across the border that they have no idea who they are,” he said.
There was no mention of how he started his campaign, saying Mexico sends rapists and people bringing crime and drugs across to the U.S. or of his feud with federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel during the campaign. Trump called the Indiana-born judge Mexican and said he couldn’t be impartial on a lawsuit against Trump because of his heritage. Trump settled the lawsuit.
There are Latinos who continue to support Trump but some of his Latino supporters have been critical of his recent executive actions.
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, delivered a prayer at Trump’s inauguration. But last week he was among a group of evangelical leaders who signed a letter to Trump opposing his executive action regarding refugees, green card and visa holders coming into the country.
“We are troubled by the recent executive order temporarily halting refugee resettlement and dramatically reducing the number of refugees who could be considered for resettlement in the U.S.,” states the letter Rodriguez signed.
“A temporary moratorium will unnecessarily delay families whose cases already have been screened and approved from being united,” Rodriguez said.
Trump’s staff held a meeting with Hispanic groups and at that meeting several attendees, conservative and progressive, expressed disappointment that Trump had failed to include a Latino in his Cabinet, according to attendees of the meeting.
His plan for a border wall and his suggestion that Mexico could be forced to pay for it through a 20 percent border tax led to the cancellation of a meeting planned for Tuesday with Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto.
The proposals and treatment of Mexico could hurt border communities – where many Latinos live – that thrive off businesses built on the cross border trade with Mexico. Some fear he might destabilize the border region if Trump's plans cause another hit to Mexico’s already suffering economy.
The immigration executive order signed by Trump has raised concerns that the home and workplace raids of the Bush administration era will return and other Latinos wonder if the sweeping authority the order gives immigration officials to arrest and detain anyone they think may be a harm to the public or who has been accused of a crime even if not charged, could lead to racial profiling.
Mario Lopez, president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, said few presidents could say at any point that they are okay with a given group, especially with the Latino community. (Obama had his own troubles with Latinos over his immigration legislation and his deportation policies).
“It’s not like 29 percent is some big accomplishment,” Lopez said of the share of the Latino vote captured by Trump. He remains a supporter of Trump.
But Lopez lamented the rift Trump opened with Mexico last week, saying it’s more important for the U.S. to have a strong partnership with its neighbor “especially when problems you want to solve can be solved in a way that fosters cooperation.”
“I think certainly he has made people nervous,” Lopez said. “People are wanting to see how this plays out, but even among his supporters there are some eyebrows being raised.”