New Jersey Latino Communities React Strongly to Trump’s Immigration Plan

By Brenda Flanagan

“We couldn’t live back home, because of threats by gangs, poverty, lack of education,” said Li Adorno.

Adorno came to the US from Mexico with his family at age 7. He’s got an office job, goes to college but can’t get financial aid because he’s not here legally. He shudders at Republican presidential primary candidate Donald Trump’s immigration policy which would deport all undocumented immigrants — as Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd.

“We have to make a whole new set of standards. And when people come in,” said Trump.

“You’re gonna split up families?  You’re gonna deport children?,” said Todd.  

“Chuck, we have to keep the families together.” Trump said 

“But you’re gonna keep them together out,” said Todd. 

“They have to go,” Trump said.

“What if they have no place to go?,” asked Todd.  

“We will work with them. They have to go,” said Trump.

“Right, but I feel like he doesn’t fully understand like we don’t come here by choice.  We’re not here to see Disneyland. We’re here because there are better opportunities here,” said Adorno.

Trump lists more reforms on his website — complete the Mexican border wall and hike immigration fees to pay for it, raise penalties for those who over stay their visas and end birthright citizenship — the 14th Amendment, which confers citizenship automatically on anyone born in the US. 

“My parents were immigrants. If Trump got his way — I would lose my citizenship,” said Latino Action Network Vice President Christian Esteves.

Esteves says Trump would discard an entire segment of society, that his extreme views have pushed more moderate Republicans further to the right. Gov. Chris Christie now says he questions birthright citizenship.

“It’s sickening. It truly is sickening that they would take this type of bigoted, racist approach to trying to get themselves into power,” Esteves said.

“There’s the perception a Hispanic undocumented worker comes here to get on welfare — those aren’t the statistics. They aren’t the statistics.  They’re working two-three jobs and they’re sustaining the American economy,” said NJ Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chair Carlos Medina.

“I don’t think it’s attracting Latinos. I think it’s making them feel like they’re the target of this immigration discussion,” said Louis Zayas.

But Republican attorney Zayas says Trump’s plan does have merit.

“It has some good points — namely, secure the borders. I think everyone would agree, you need to secure the borders. But how you go about doing that is the issue. I don’t think constructing a wall is the way to do it in the 21st century.  I think it’s symbolic and is catering to a certain group within the Republican party,” Zayas said.

“The way it’s set up, it’s not working. Not only for the US but also for other different countries,” said NJ Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board Member Luis De La Hoz. 

The latest Rutgers Eagleton poll says 64 percent of New Jersey residents believe undocumented immigrants who came here illegally should be allowed to stay — to seek US citizenship. Which means 64 percent of New Jerseyans don’t agree with Donald Trump on this issue.