LOS ANGELES - As businessman Donald Trump moves closer to winning the Republican presidential nomination, many Latinos in the United States say they are put off by his anti-immigration rhetoric and will vote for someone else.
At the start of the election season, Salvadoran-American Rene Burgos and his wife, Mexican-American Maria Elena Burgos, said they would vote for the candidate who would best reflect their Christian values.
“Someone who is more compassionate, more caring for the people,” Rene Burgos said.
Rene Burgos said his Christian faith shapes what he does and the decisions he makes, including picking the next U.S. president. Burgos and his wife had been leaning toward voting for a Republican until Trump started winning primaries and caucuses.
“When I started seeing the debates and the results, I was depressed. I was like, 'Oh no,” Maria Elena Burgos said.
Trump’s proposal to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and his statement about undocumented Mexican immigrants “... bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people," have caused strong emotions among many Latinos.
“I would say anger, also disappointment,” Maria Elena Burgos added, saying, ”the United States has been made of many, many cultures together, so if we start making walls, or dividing, or sending people away; we are destroying the country. We are not building it up.”
“We are here trying to contribute to make this nation a great nation. We do it by hard work and by honest work. I don’t think building a wall is a good way to address these issues,” said Rene Burgos.
Now an American citizen, Rene Burgos escaped the civil war in El Salvador and came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant. He received amnesty under the Reagan administration. He said contrary to Trump's anti-immigrant views, Latino immigrants are having a positive impact on the U.S.
New generation of voters
Republican political consultant Luis Alvarado said while Latinos have traditionally voted for a Democrat, many Latinos who make up the new generation of voters remain undecided. He said Trump’s success may prompt many Latinos to take action.
“They (Latinos) will vote for Hillary Clinton not because they support her ideas or her presidency or her policies, but just to punish Donald Trump.” Alvarado added, “There is nothing more powerful in any electoral campaign, for any electoral group than an enraged electorate.”
Maria Elena Burgos agreed, if it’s a decision between Trump and Clinton, she will vote for Clinton, a Democrat.
“Not that I agree with any of her policies, but (I will vote for Clinton) just to save America from Trump.”
In the weeks leading up to Easter, the Burgos’ faith and values are constantly on their minds. Maria Elena Burgos said she will pray that the best person for the job will become the next president of the United States.