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In a powerful speech on the final night of the Republican National Convention, presidential nominee Donald Trump presented a dark view of American society, identifying two culprits for its supposed downfall: undocumented immigrants and unfair trade deals.
Those who thought Trump would use the convention to tone down his rhetoric to attract the Hispanic vote, and other minorities, were disappointed.
Instead, he stuck to an aggressive message on immigration, reiterating that he will build a wall on the border, railing against sanctuary cities and presenting undocumented immigrants as responsible for increased crime in some cities.
"Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens," he said.
"We are going to be considerate and compassionate to everyone," he said. "But my greatest compassion will be for our own struggling citizens. My plan is the exact opposite of the radical and dangerous immigration policy of Hillary Clinton. Americans want relief from uncontrolled immigration. "
His speech appeared to fire up delegates, and while his attack on free trade resonates with many voters - Republican and Democrat - some analysts questioned whether his hostile rhetoric towards immigrants would go down well nationally, especially among undecided voters.
Delegates gave Trump a standing ovation, and yelled several times "Build the wall! Build the wall!"
Among those celebrating Trump’s speech was white supremacist David Duke. “Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn't have said it better!,” he tweeted.
But immigration advocates as well as some Republicans reacted in horror.
“Many have worked for years to make GOP a more inclusive & representative party. Sad to see us go so far backwards,” Republican commentator Ana Navarro tweeted on Friday.
When a commentator suggested she has found Trump’s speech “chilling,” Navarro responded: “I did not find Trump's speech 'chilling.' I found it horrifying.”
Speaking live on CNN on Thursday night after the speech she also described it as “disgusting.”
“I've never heard so much hatred in 1 Convention,” tweeted Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who noted that only 133 of 2,472 delegates at the convention were Latinos (5%) and only three Hispanics were invited to speak.
Navarro and others were especially shocked when the convention organizers invited controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio to speak on the final day, in front of an image of the border fence.
"My most important mission is to elect Donald Trump," said Arpaio, who has been a lightning rod for scandal since his election in 1993, largely due to his controversial efforts to use police to enforce immigration laws.
“We are more concerned with the rights of illegal immigrants than the citizens of our own country," he said.
Arpaio has been accused of racial profiling, and abuse of power, but he has won fans among conservatives for his toughness in enforcing border laws.
“We have terrorists coming over our border, infiltrating our communities and causing massive destruction and mayhem,” he said.
Trump linked his attack on undocumented immigrants to the impact of bad trade deals on long-suffering American workers. He presented himself as the savior of a white working class forgotten by elites running the Democratic Party. "These families have no special interests to represent them. There are no demonstrators to protest on their behalf. My opponent will never meet with them, or share in their pain," he said.
Trump said undocumented immigrants were directly to blame for what he said was rising crime in the United States, though the figures he used were immediately questioned by analysts.
Trump's reference to the 180,000 immigrant criminals roaming free is open to interpretation, experts say. Having a criminal record can vary widely, including non-violent petty crimes. Trump didn't specify whether those immigrants were charged with violent crimes. For example, for some immigrants driving under the influence is a deportable offense, depending on a person's immigration status and criminal background.
Trump also spoke about Sarah Root, a Nebraska college student killed in a car accident by an undocumented immigrant earlier this year. "One more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders," said Trump.
The U.S. border is not in fact open; in fiscal year 2015, for example, border patrol agents detained almost 340,000 migrants nationwide. Plus, the Omaha World-Herald called the Root case a " systemic failure" - not only due to immigration enforcement but of the county judge and local court staff.
Trump didn't mention that studies show immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than those born in the United States, nor the fact that illegal immigration has fallen in recent years. He also didn't specify how he'd manage to expel the 11 million undocumented immigrants he wants to deport.
The convention as already under fire from Latino groups for vilifying undocumented immigrants on its opening day. Republican National Committee Hispanic Media Director Helen Aguirre Ferré sought to defend the convention schedule telling reporters that "The focus, more than anything, was that we have laws that have to be observed and we are not observing."
Many Latinos following the convention see Trump and his delegates as anti-Hispanic, according to a July 19 Latino Decisions poll. Around 77% of Hispanics said watching the RNC made them angry, and 71% said Trump has made the Republican Party more hostile to Latinos. Almost 80% said the Republican Party does not respect Hispanics, and more than three-quarters said the GOP is anti-immigrant.
A survey conducted by national research agency Gallup this week found that 84% of Americans prefer a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
The poll, released Wednesday, suggests that Trump's much vaunted plan to deport all undocumented immigrants living in the United States back to their home countries, as well as building a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, is not embraced by all Republicans.
Gallup’s survey shows that while 62% of Republicans are in favor of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, 76% of Republicans support allowing undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship. The poll also shows that Republicans are equally split when it comes to Trump’s plan to deport all undocumented immigrants back to their home country.
The Gallup poll comes on the heels of a survey conducted in April by Cronkite News at Arizona State University, Univision and the Dallas Morning News that showed that a majority of residents living on the border oppose Trump’s wall out fear that it would divide existing communities on the border. Univision’s poll found that 86% of those on the Mexican side and 72% on the American side were each opposed to the building of a border wall.
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