President Donald Trump is caught between a rock and a hard place with less than four months remaining before the November elections. With the pandemic again on the upswing, political handicappers have the president trailing challenger Joe Biden by a considerable margin. Polls can be tricky and are not always bipartisan, but most will agree that Trump has lost some momentum.
If there were any lessons learned from 2016, it’s that Trump doesn’t do well with minority voters and must do more to court them. That of course, remains a monumental task. He has been critical of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, while calling the Confederate flag a part of American history. That’s not what African Americans want to hear though, as they continue to call for defunding the police in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder.
Hispanics remain skeptical of Trump too. After the Supreme Court recently ruled against the dismantling of the DACA program, the president vowed that he would try again and the court gave its blessing. Trump and ICE also announced a new initiative that could eventually deport foreign students who are enrolled at universities that switched over to online classes. But when over 200 universities challenged the new policy in court, including Harvard and MIT, the administration was forced to rescind the order. The decision was justified because with COVID still raging, most colleges are temporarily closed for on campus learning. However, applications for incoming foreign freshmen students have been put on hold.
So is it too late for Donald Trump to pick up any Latino votes in November? Absolutely not, but he has to be smart and rethink his strategy. Most hard-working, law-abiding Hispanic Americans don’t think of Trump as the “boogie man.” Before the pandemic, unemployment numbers were were at an all-time low, and the president has partnered with Latino leaders to provide better educational and economic opportunities. On the flip side, the closure of our southern border with Mexico to non-essential travel has turned thriving communities into ghost towns. Crime is skyrocketing and folks are desperate in these gateways that dot the landscape in California, Arizona and Texas. The president should signal to Congress that plenty of money be earmarked for these towns in the next stimulus package. And while that is being hashed out, why not “borrow” a bit of that “wall money” as a temporary emergency fund?
It would also be helpful if Trump would quit sending mixed messages. Just a couple of weeks ago when the president was wrapping up a press briefing, he announced that he would sign a major immigration bill in the coming days.
“It’s going to be a big bill, a good bill, a merit-based bill that will include DACA because it’s the right thing to do,” Trump told several news outlets, including Telemundo. “People are going to be very happy.”
But it turns out that part of Trump’s base, the ultra conservative Tea Party-types, were NOT very happy. So the big, good bill was put on the back burner along with the promised announcement. Puzzled, 140 large American companies including Apple, Target, Marriott, Google and Uber signed on to a letter sent to the president. The message was clear…Please leave DACA alone. Trump’s response? He instructed the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to no longer accept applications for the program.
Look, I know that DACA recipients and Green Card holders can’t vote. But I can guarantee you that every Hispanic American in this country knows someone who holds that status. They could be family, friends or both. And when the president frowns on these folks and doesn’t seem to give a damn about their well-being, it creates a black mark on his integrity in the Latino community.
Show our country’s fastest rising minority population that you care, President Trump…that you care about everybody.