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What Trump's first 100 days has meant for Latinos

The White House refuses to understand the critical importance of engaging the largest minority in the country and the fastest growing segment of the population.
Enrique Acevedo is Univision's Washington correspondent.
President Donald Trump's 100 day honeymoon is over Crédito: Getty Images

The audience gathered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library erupted in a loud cheer.

It was only the second Republican Party primary debate in April 2016 and Donald Trump had already made up his mind about the campaign he wanted to run and the country he wanted to lead.

Standing next to Jeb Bush, he lashed out at the former Florida Governor for speaking Spanish: "This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish," Trump yelled.

After securing his party’s nomination Trump became the only Republican presidential candidate in recent history to snub major Spanish-language media and the millions of voters who follow and trust these platforms as their primary, and often only, source of information.

Trump declined to provide any interviews, effectively censoring Hispanic journalists. Breaking with a decades-old bipartisan tradition, the Trump campaign even forwent having a Spanish version of its website.

Trump was speaking about Hispanics, but he was not speaking with them. It was a sign of things to come.

Only a day after Donald Trump was inaugurated, the White House’s Spanish-language website went dark, and it has remained so for the first 100 days of this administration.

Univision, one of the most watched broadcast networks in the country regardless of language, is rarely called upon during press briefings. And with the exception of Helen Aguirre and Carlos Diaz-Rosillo, no senior White House official or cabinet member has appeared on Spanish-language television.

Imagine the government of the United States reduced to two voices, and a president who himself will not address you directly.

Trump's refusal to communicate in any language but English is a potent reminder of his contempt for the growing diversity of race, gender and points of view in the country he now leads.

An avid follower of conservative media, he astutely picked up on the demographic anxieties caused by this ever-changing America, and quickly discovered the power of that concern with the largest segment of the electorate. As president he has stayed true to that insular view of the world, either by guile or by instinct inflaming a growing anti-immigrant sentiment.

During the last 100 days leading Univision's coverage from Washington D.C., I have witnessed first hand how Latinos are often excluded from the national conversation. I've seen a pattern of overpromising and under-delivering, of not making good on their word, that applies to many aspects of the Trump administration, and is unfortunately repeated in its relationship with Hispanic journalists and news organizations.

When asked about the Spanish-language page at a briefing way back on Jan 23, the president's spokesman Sean Spicer said, “we’ve got the IT folks working overtime right now to continue to get all of that up to speed.”

It may seem a petty gripe, but that site still being down is a piece that is representative of the whole. The “I’ll get back to you” communication strategy can buy them time, but it is a strategy with a very short shelf life that is rapidly approaching its expiration date. Trump and his White House neglect Latinos at their own peril.

In thinking he does not need to reach out, let alone answer to Hispanics and their concerns, Trump shows he learned the wrong lesson from his election victory. When it comes to Latinos, he’s trusting that the same polls that failed to predict his victory in November are right about him being able to ignore Latinos without consequence.

By doing so, the administration refuses to understand the critical importance of engaging the largest minority in the country and the fastest growing segment of the population, not just for his own electoral considerations and his party in the future, but to govern effectively today.