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Several of Donald Trump’s most prominent Hispanic supporters are reconsidering their support following his major speech on immigration Wednesday.
Jacob Monty, an attorney based in Houston, resigned from the Republican candidate’s National Hispanic Advisory Council after hearing the speech in Phoenix, Politico reported early Thursday morning.
“I was a strong supporter of Donald Trump when I believed he was going to address the immigration problem realistically and compassionately,” Monty told the news site. “What I heard today was not realistic and not compassionate.”
After weeks of toying with “softening” his deportation-based approach to illegal immigration, the GOP nominee on Wednesday gave a speech in which he embraced the hard-line policies and incendiary rhetoric that defined his primary campaign. He said that anyone in the United States illegally would be subject to deportation and vowed to bolster security at the U.S.-Mexico border.
For many Hispanic conservatives like Monty, who had advocated passionately for Trump, the speech was not merely a disappointment, but a betrayal. They hoped the candidate would lay out a plan for dealing humanely with the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country, especially those with no involvement in violent crime.
Trump’s support among Latino voters is far beneath that of past Republican candidates, according to public polls, which presents a unique challenge for the mogul as he seeks to win key states — like Florida, Nevada and Colorado — with large Hispanic constituencies. On Thursday, Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign began to run ads in Arizona, a historically Republican state but with a large number of Latino voters.
Monty told the Texas Tribune that Trump’s speech was a “complete betrayal to Republican ideals and his [commitments] made” and that Republicans need to “reclaim our party from the [nativist] elements.”
When asked if he’d continue raising money for Trump, Monty replied, “No way José … It is pouring money down the drain.”
Monty was one of the Latino leaders who attended the Aug. 20 meeting in Trump Tower where the billionaire mogul reportedly softened his tone on illegal immigration.
“When we met [earlier in August], he was going to approach this issue with a realistic plan, a compassionate plan, with a plan that was not disruptive to the immigrants that were here that were not lawbreakers,” Monty told Politico. “He didn’t deliver any of that.”
Similarly, Alfonso Aguilar, the president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, told Politico that he was “inclined” to drop his support for Trump after this week’s big speech.
“It’s so disappointing because we feel we took a chance, a very risky chance,” he said. “We decided to make a big U-turn to see if we could make him change. We thought we were moving in the right direction … we’re disappointed. We feel misled.”
Data analyst Leslie Sanchez, who specializes in public opinion research for elections and the Hispanic-Latino marketplace, works closely with the Republican Party. She said sources told her that half of Trump’s Hispanic advisory board was eyeing the door on Thursday.
Massey Villarreal, a businessman in Houston, told NBC Latino that he was finished supporting Trump after Wednesday night’s “awful” speech.
“As a compassionate conservative, I am disappointed with the immigration speech,” he said. “I’m going to flip, but not flop. I am no longer supporting Trump for president, but cannot with any conscience support Hillary [Clinton].”