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Trump’s Tough Immigration Stance Increases Challenge for Republicans in ‘Swing States’

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a sign supporting his plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico at his campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina earlier this year. (Reuters/file)

Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration has won him support from Americans who worry that migrants are a drain on the economy and a security risk. But that message is facing skepticism in many places with rapidly changing racial demographics.

Hispanics are by far the fast growing segment of the U.S. population, growing 43 percent over 10 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's last count in 2010. Put another way, the census reports “the rise in the Hispanic population accounted for more than half of the 27.3 million increase in the total U.S. population [in 2010].” That growth, it says, is partly due to immigration.

Fabiola Vejar, right, registers Stephanie Cardenas to vote in front of a Latino supermarket in Las Vegas in June 2016. (AP)
Fabiola Vejar, right, registers Stephanie Cardenas to vote in front of a Latino supermarket in Las Vegas in June 2016. (AP)

White, non-hispanics remain the largest single racial group in America, accounting for about 63 percent of the population in 2010. But that segment of the population is also reported to be slowest growing.

With just over two months left until the presidential election, strategists from both the Republican and Democratic parties say this reality presents a problem for Trump, whose controversial comments about Mexican immigrants have alienated voters he may need to win in November.​

Swing states

Given the rising numbers of eligible Hispanic voters in the United States, Trump’s policy speech on immigration set for Wednesday night in Arizona is likely to be watched closely. According to the Pew Research Center, immigration is among the top five concerns for Hispanic-Americans.

And Trump’s promise to “build a wall” and deport illegal immigrants have made a dent in his polling, especially in what are known as “swing states” - that is, states where the race between Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is close, and where there is a growing number of eligible voters of Hispanic origin.

Here is a list of states where America’s changing demographics are widely believed to make a difference, according to the polls and the percentage of Hispanic voters.

New Mexico - 40.1 percent - with so many Latino voters, several professional prognosticators are putting this state (worth 5 electoral votes) in the Democrats column.

Arizona - 21.5 percent - so far, this state is leaning towards Trump, with room for Clinton to win over votes and walk away with the state's 11 electoral votes.

Florida - 18.1 percent - always an important state for any candidate to win with its prize of 29 electoral votes, Florida is considered up for grabs right now.

Nevada - 17.2 percent - Clinton appears to be just ahead of Trump in this state that carries 6 electoral votes.

Colorado - 14.5 percent - all experts seem to agree that Colorado, with 9 electoral votes, is leaning towards Clinton right now after being considered a toss up.

(sources: FiveThirtyEight, CNN Politics, Larry Sabato, Real Clear Politics, The Cook Political Report)