In summary

Even if the Republican loses, Latino supporters highlight the need for Democrats in control in California to be inclusive of an important voting block with differing views on small businesses, health care and immigration.

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Southern California Latinos backing President Donald Trump are praising his work over the past four years as they anxiously await the final results of this election. Even if the Republican loses, Latino supporters highlight the need for Democrats in control in California to be inclusive of an important voting block with differing views on small businesses, health care and immigration. 

Republican Latinos credit Trump for restoring the economy and job creation before the pandemic. They applauded his principles around faith and family, such as resisting giving children the option to choose which gender they identify with.

Oscar Levi Dominguez, who is Salvadoran, said he joined  Americanos Republicanos, a group of Democrats turned Republicans, because he grew tired of empty promises by the state’s majority party.

“Democratic politicians have neglected our areas and only seek their own interests,” Dominguez said. “For example, there is (former LA Councilman José) Huizar who, at the end of the day, ended up doing favors to great developers and did not care about his community.”

He added, it’s unsustainable for politicians to give “everything for free.” Under Democrats, Doominguez said, California has seen increased homelessness and economic insecurity.

Making inroads as the minority party

Latino Trump supporters tried to make inroads this election cycle despite being in the minority. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 58% of Latinos are Democrats compared to 16% Republican and 20% independent.

John Goya said Republicans opened two offices in Long Beach to campaign for Trump’s reelection, making phone calls and hosting events.

“We called Democrats and independents to motivate them to vote,” he said. “Some hung up on us, but a great majority listened to us.”

The U.S. citizen of Cuban origin said it’s time for Californians to wake up and support the GOP because current state leaders have not governed well, putting small businesses at risk with pandemic restrictions.

“The shut down during the pandemic is affecting us tremendously. I have friends who have owned their restaurants for 15 or 20 years and they are going to have to close because they are not allowed to open inside and they do not have space outside,” Goya said.

He also considers health to be a topic of major interest. 

Goya considers Obamacare a disaster, forcing people to purchase health insurance even if they couldn’t afford it, and fining them they didn’t have coverage. Although the federal government repealed the individual mandate, California has since established its own mandate.

Juan Maldonado, of Ecuadorian origin, said his greatest fear is that the United States will turn into a socialist country, following the path of some South American countries.

“Trump is a president who is not a politician and has good plans. This is the only country where you can establish yourself as a capitalist, ” Maldonado said. “Biden has been 47 years in politics and supports socialism.”

Different opinions on immigration

On immigration, Latinos aren’t all in agreement on how best to address the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Jazmina Saavedra, spokesperson for Latinos for Trump, said she’s not interested in amnesty for the undocumented population. However, she does support an accelerated process for family petitions.

“There are thousands of families who are waiting for the opportunity to enter in a legal way,” she said.

Goya said he supports the legalization mainly of young people, such as the recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

“I do believe everyone must have an opportunity, mainly young people who do not know any other country as their home,” he said.

Goya said he came to America as a refugee with his mother from Cuba when he was 4 years old. He was granted amnesty by Republican President Ronald Reagan.

Dominguez said that he arrived as an undocumented from El Salvador and eventually obtained the Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Later he managed to legalize his situation and now he is a U.S. citizen.

“We all know the TPS has a time frame and there must be a way found to negotiate legalization,” he said, adding that countries whose people receive TPS must advocate for their nationals.

Goya, Dominguez and Maldonado said they were disappointed President Barack Obama failed to deliver comprehensive immigration reform during his eight years in office.

This article is part of The California Divide, a collaboration among newsrooms examining income inequity and economic survival in California.

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Jacqueline Garcia is a reporter covering poverty and inequality issues for our California Divide collaboration. She is based at La Opinion newspaper in Los Angeles, where she has covered issues ranging...