Hispanic pastors praise Trump for work on border security as president touts growing support

President Donald Trump.
President Donald Trump. | Photo: White House

A group of Hispanic pastors praised President Donald Trump for his work on border security and pushing to build his controversial wall at a meeting at the White House Friday, as the New York billionaire touted a recent poll showing his growing support among Latinos.

“They have tremendous congregations of pastors and ministers anywhere in this country.  And they’ve been talking to me for a long period of time.  And you probably saw we went up 19 percent — I saw that just a little while — with the Hispanic population.  Part of it is the jobs because they’re doing record-setting jobs right now.  But part of it is what we talk about — the wall and security,” Trump said in his meeting with the group.

Waco pastor Ramiro Pena delivered a letter he said was endorsed by 150 Hispanic evangelical leaders expressing thanks for the president’s “good faith efforts” to work with Democrats on border security.

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“You’ve done a very good job and been the leader we need you to be in extending a hand to them to come to the table. And we want to say thank you for doing that, and we want to say thank you for doing everything you can to get aid, in a humanitarian way, for this crisis where it’s needed most, securing our borders, and providing for law enforcement and the Border Patrol everything they need — all the tools and resources that are needed,” Pena said.

“One thing you have not done, Mr. President, is manufacture a humanitarian crisis. It’s real. And although many people began to declare repeatedly this is a manufactured crisis — being a pastor from Texas, I can tell you the human suffering that’s been going on for many decades has hit a fever pitch. And I’m grateful that you have shown leadership to recognize it, to call it out, and to actually do something about it,” he added.

The meeting came the same day Trump agreed to sign a continuing resolution to reopen the federal government through February 15, after 35 days of demanding $5 billion to fund the controversial border wall.

“We’re here to support you, Mr. President. You know, there’s misconception in the public, thinking that Spanish community is for illegal immigration. There’s a misconception also that we want open borders,” Pastor Guillermo Maldonado of King Jesus Ministry in Miami said.

“Dealing with people every single day, I see that our community support what you’re doing. We don’t want open borders. I’ve been in 70 countries, preaching the Gospel, and every country has laws and order. And every country we go, America has been so gracious, opening the doors and opening the doors for every person that comes,” he continued. “… We’re here to support you, and what you’re doing is great. The lowest unemployment for Spanish people — 4 percent — that’s incredible.”

President Trump in his remarks promised to work with Democrats to negotiate funding for the border wall but insisted that if they couldn’t make a deal he will declare a national emergency.

“We’re going to work with the Democrats. We’re going to see. And if we can’t do that, then we’ll do — obviously we’re going to do the emergency, because that’s what it is. It’s a national emergency,” said Trump.

“These are Hispanic pastors and reverends and ministers, and they understand better than anybody, it’s an emergency. It’s a humanitarian emergency. And we are going to take care of our border. It’s going to be done. And crime is going to go down throughout our whole country, not just at the border. The border is the least of it. It’s what comes in through the border and permeates throughout the whole country,” the president said, pointing to the drug trade.

“You’re going to see drugs drop way down, because a big percentage come in through the border. You will see drugs way down. You’re going to see crime go way down. So we’re going to do it, and we’re doing well. And I really appreciate you being here,” he added.

Last Tuesday, President Trump touted a PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll result, highlighting that his approval rating among Latinos rose to 50 percent.

“Marist/NPR/PBS Poll shows President Trump’s approval rating among Latinos going to 50%, an increase in one year of 19%. Thank you, working hard!” he noted in a tweet.

An analysis by PBS however explained that as part of the survey, 1,023 people were asked: “Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president?”

It noted that while the president is correct in that saying that 50 percent of the Latinos who were questioned in the survey approved of his work as president, only 153 Latino Americans were interviewed for the poll.

The small sample size of Latino respondents had a “wide” margin of error of 9.9 percentage points, meaning that the 50 percent approval rating among Latinos the president cited could range from 40 percent to 60 percent.

A statistically significant poll of Latino Americans it further noted would have a much larger sample size, a lower margin of error and would be conducted in English or Spanish. The interviews in the PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll were conducted only in English.

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