Latinos cite economy in support for president

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Michaela Chavez is a former Democrat who says she’s been a supporter of Donald Trump from Day One.

She likes how his administration is handling the economy and feels he’s negotiating better trade deals for the country.

And when it comes to immigration, the Albuquerque resident supports the president’s desire to build a wall on the Mexican border.

“I’m all for immigration, as long as it is done the right way,” she said.

Chavez is convinced Trump is building a better future for her family.

She is the type of person Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale hopes to recruit to help the president win New Mexico in 2020. Parscale pledged the campaign would pour more resources into the state at the Latinos for Trump-sponsored “Vamos for Victory” organizing event at Casa Rondeña Winery in the North Valley on Tuesday, one day after Trump’s rally at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

“We need volunteers,” Parscale told about the crowd of about 200. “You have to step up. If you can’t go door-to-door, sign up for Twitter.”

He urged those in attendance to retweet the president’s tweets, or those of the campaign or the Republican Party.

“Choose your weapon … Snapchat or Instagram,” he said. “Volunteer on our website. Get training. … This is about a huge grass-roots movement to save our country.”

He would seem to have eager volunteers in Marcella Trujillo Melendez and Ernie Salazar.

“The most important thing to me is that I believe he truly loves America,” Melendez said. “I believe that he knows his job. His job is to put America first. He’s not the president of the world.”

Like Chavez, Melendez believes Trump is doing “a bang-up job” on the economy.

Salazar agrees.

“Hispanic unemployment is at a historical low,” he said. “African American unemployment is at a historic low. He’s taking care of people of color. If you look in a box of crayons, you’ll see a white crayon, too.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Hispanics matched its record low of 4.2% in August. The unemployment rate for African American workers fell to an all-time low of 5.5%. But the overall African American participation in the job market, 58%, is lower than it was in March 2000, when it was 61.4%.

Like Chavez, Salazar and Melendez agree with the president on immigration policy.

“I believe in the wall,” Melendez said. “I believe in security. This is my country, and I want it to be safe.”

State Rep. Alonzo Baldonado said he sees the energy of the support for Trump from Hispanics.

“I see the energy in Valencia County,” said the Republican from Los Lunas, who was a panelist at the event. He said the county, which traditionally has voted Democratic, supported Trump in 2016. “If we can multiply that with the energy in this room and take it back to our hometowns, President Trump can win in New Mexico,” he said.

But Democrats are skeptical that Trump can win over Hispanic voters.

“The president has demeaned, demonized and discriminated against Hispanics, immigrants and diverse communities every single day he has been president,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said before the president’s rally.

The state Democratic Party also sent a news release calling some of the president’s remarks about Hispanics at the rally “offensive.”

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