Olivia Teforlack contributed to this story
While in high school, Abraham proudly wore his MAGA hat for all to see. The recent graduate of Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School is Latino but prefers not to give his last name, however, because he knows his opinions aren’t popular with many in his community.
He says he’s voting for Trump for president, because he believes he is the most qualified candidate. “I like Trump, I agree with most of his policies and there is nothing bad about him that I have a huge problem with,” Abraham says.
With the elections happening in just days and an already strong early voter turnout, the Trump and Biden campaigns are trying to cater to people of color, and especially Latinos. There are an estimated 32 million Latino eligible voters in the 2020 election, which will surpass the number of eligible Black voters in the U.S. for the first time.
Latinos have historically voted Democrat, but support for Republicans has grown in the last decades – especially from more conservative Latinos. Since 2016, one third of the Latino vote has gone to Republican candidates, according to the New York Times.
At Trump rallies, it isn’t rare to see a Latinos for Trump sign. The Latino support for Trump isn’t much of a surprise. Exit polls of the 2016 election showed that 28% of Latinos voted for Trump, with a recent national poll showing Trump support to be up to 35%.
Because about 22% of the more than 23 million eligible Generation Z voters are Hispanic/Latino, it is also not surprising to see support for Trump among young Latinos. According to a recent poll from the Harvard Public Opinion Project, approximately 25% of 2,206 young voters surveyed support President Trump.
One of the policies that resonates with Abraham and other young Trump supporters is the building of a border wall between Mexico and the United States. Despite the ongoing debate of the effectiveness of the wall, Abraham firmly believes that a physical barrier will tremendously help lower the rate at which undocumented immigrants enter the United States.
“We need to protect ourselves from the evil outside our country, “ says Abraham. “Illegal immigrants have for a fact brought crime and drugs to our country.”
According to the Pew Research Center, younger Latino voters no longer associate immigration with their “cultural identity,” making this a less significant issue for them. But this doesn’t seem to be the case with some young conservatives.
Ricardo is another recent Bravo Medical Magnet High School graduate who says the 2016 election swayed him to the right, even though he wasn’t of age to vote then.
“The more I got into politics, the more I investigated [Trump] and what he stood for,” says Ricardo, who is Latino and did not want his last name used. “The more I found what I stood for politically, my viewpoints and his were aligned.”
For him, immigration is one of the main issues facing the United States today. Ricardo comes from a family of Republican immigrants that believe that all people that want to come into the United States should be screened because, as he says, “we do not know their intentions.”
He believes that undocumented immigrants are damaging to the economy because they do not pay taxes –although that is not factually correct.
“Yes my family are immigrants, but we contribute to society,” Ricardo says. “That can’t be said about all immigrants. They just add to the problem.”
Ricardo says that people must assume that he is a fascist because he likes the president. “It’s more dangerous to be a conservative then to be gay in our current political climate,” he complains. “When people tell me they are a liberal, I think of them wanting the U.S as a socialist or communist country and I don’t want that.”
Among Latinos, support for Trump also tends to differ according to gender. According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 67% of Latinas are more likely to vote or lean for Biden, while only 59% of Latino men feel the same way.
Virgnia O’ Vincent, a young Afro-Latina from the Eastside, says most people are surprised to hear who she supports for president. “I like Trump, because he is honest and cares for the future of America and its citizens,” she says. “He is genuine.”
Similarly, Abraham states that people are surprised that he is a fan of the president. His peers tend to judge him, he says, and many bring up Trump’s racist comments in 2016, when he called Mexicans “rapists” who are “bringing crime” and “bringing drugs” to this country.
“I don’t believe at all that Trump is a racist,” says Abraham, pointing out that the President consistently makes the assertion that he is not racist. “He has gone out of his way to state that he is against racism”.
“When you call him a racist it cheapens real racism,” argues Ricardo.
“There is more to the President”, O’Keefe says. “He is not racist.”
While Abraham knows that some may see his views as divisive, the former high school student says everyone should learn from each other and not just judge each other’s views.
“We are always going to have different opinions,” he says, “but we must come together and find common ground.”