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Politics

Hispanics on the border with Mexico who will vote for Trump

Barbara and James see a born leader in the GOP candidate. They don't like illegal immigration, and see his proposed wall as a solution.
2 Nov 2016 – 1:34 PM EDT

James Reyes likes Donald Trump.

“Almost everything he says, I would say it the same way,” says Reyes. “He doesn't back down. He says what he feels. I don't like it when people lie.”

Reyes, 73, was born Jaime, but his name was changed to James in school. His wife Barbara, 70, has been called Babs since birth. Their families have lived in the United States for more than 100 years.

They call themselves Mexican Americans as well as Hispanics and sometimes even Mexicans. But they are “Americans first,” they say, “Patriots above all.” Sometimes they refer to Americans in the first person, and other times as “they.” Sometimes they speak English, other times Spanish, and almost always a little bit of both.

Today, the Reyes got up early to go to a Trump campaign rally in Tucson, Arizona. They live in a cactus-filled desert a long 30-minute drive from the city.

One wears a Trump sun visor, the other one of the candidate's signature red caps and a t-shirt that says “USA.” And they carry a sign that says, “My blood is Hispanic. My heart is American.”

Barbara says Trump is a natural leader and a patriot. James says he will expand freedoms and end corruption. “Politicians work only for themselves. They get rich off the people,” he says. Barbara nods her heads in approval.

Their family makes fun of them because they watch the TV news every day, in the morning, at noon, in the evening and at night. Always the news.

“We watch different channels, not just Fox,” Barbara says, referring to the conservative channel. She adds that the GOP presidential candidate won her over little by little. “As I listened more to Trump … not just at the rallies. I listened to him in interviews, sitting, calm.”

This article is part of a nine part short video series by Univision looking at diverse Hispanic voters in the 2016 election. Click here to view the entire series.

They live just 60 miles from the border with Mexico. They have nothing against legal immigration, but they really don't like illegal immigration.

James explains: “The wall is very important for me. We need the wall. We don't know who is coming in.” He's talking about Trump's proposal to build a wall along the nearly 2,000-mile long U.S. border with Mexico.

The Reyes are witnesses to the drama of illegal immigration. Exhausted, dehydrated and sick migrants have come to the door of their home, in the middle of the desert. The couple gives them blankets, talks to them, offers them coffee and food. “We're humans, no?”

They know what it is to be poor. Their families once received welfare assistance and struggled to provide food for the family. When they married, James was earning $48 per week. Today, they live in a house they built.

That's why they believe in the “American Dream.” James takes off his cap and reads the slogan, “Make America Great Again.” He says that when he reads it, he gets goose bumps and his eyes water.

He puts the cap back on. He is ready to watch his first Trump rally in person.

The author of this report can be contacted at dbonmati@univision.net or on Twitter. Reporters Jika González, Oscar Gomez and Daniela Zavala contributed to this report.


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