Trump's Controversial Statements On Immigration Highlight GOP's "Latino Problem"


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When Donald Trump disparaged Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and drug-runners during his presidential announcement, the slurs were initially dismissed as just another outrageous pronouncement from the blustery billionaire.
But as Latinos reel in anger and celebrities and corporate sponsors drop their associations with Trump, the Republican Party’s other presidential hopefuls face an increasingly uncomfortable choice: engage with Trump and elevate his already high visibility, or stay silent and risk appearing to condone his statements. So far, most have said little, hoping the controversy will fade.
It’s the latest Latino problem for the GOP, which will have great difficulty winning the White House if it fails to expand its overwhelmingly white base to include minorities. The problem will only worsen if Trump continues to do well enough in polls to qualify for the party’s televised debates.
On Wednesday, the controversy mounted as retailer Macy’s announced it was severing ties with Trump, joining broadcasters Univision and NBC. The moves reflected the growing clout of Latino consumers as well as corporate America’s declining tolerance for racially inflammatory remarks.
Trump fired back characteristically, saying that Macy’s and NBC had “totally caved,” and that their moves show they “support illegal immigration.”
Republican strategist Ana Navarro said most Republicans viewed Trump’s remarks as “cringe-worthy,” but were reluctant to speak out.
“It’s like getting into an argument with your crazy, distant uncle at Thanksgiving,” she said. “Why do it when you know he’s crazy and you only see him once a year? Most Republicans would prefer to close their eyes and hope that when we open them again, Trump will be gone. Problem is, he’s surging in polls and the backlash to his comments is getting bigger and longer. He is the toothache you can’t get rid of.”
Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigration advocacy group America’s Voice, said he was surprised that GOP leaders had not come out more strongly against Trump. “Can you imagine if he was talking about Jews? African Americans?” Sharry said. “Would the GOP stand up? Of course they would. … But the silence of the GOP on this is defining the party.”
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