Charlotte's Latin American Community Anticipates Trump Presidency

Dec 14, 2016

In the days immediately following last month's election, many Latinos in the U.S. reacted strongly to Donald Trump's victory. Some called his election as president "sad" or even "a tragedy," and they expressed fear for themselves or their families in the future. 

Members of Charlotte's Latin American community have also been digesting Trump's win and wondering what the future holds under the next presidential administration. "I think there's a lot of uncertainty and a lot of fear in our community," says Jose Hernandez-Paris, who is executive director of Charlotte's Latin American Coalition. He says immigration issues are the top concern for Latinos as Trump prepares to take office.

Hernandez-Paris cites one major concern: the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Obama authorized in 2012. Hernandez-Paris says there's a lot of fear that Trump will "get rid" of DACA. "But also, a lot of fear of deportations of families that are here in the United States."

Jose Hernandez-Paris is the Executive Director of the Latin American Coalition.
Credit Latin American Coalition

The Latin American community leader also points to what he sees as other evidence of an anti-Latino sentiment stemming from the recent presidential campaign. Hernandez-Paris says the Latin American Coalition has received "hate mail," and he believes there's been an increase in bullying and harassment targeted at Latino students in Charlotte schools.  

But Hernandez-Paris also sees some reason for the Latino community to be hopeful following Donald Trump's election. He notes that President Obama, during his two terms in office, was not able to bring about a comprehensive overhaul of the nation's immigration laws. With a Republican president and Congress in place, "there is some hope that maybe...we may be surprised and actually obtain some type of relief for our families," says Hernandez-Paris. 

And, Trump did receive a significant number of votes from Latinos. Polling  by the organization Latino Decisions during the final four days before the November 8 election found that 18 percent of Latinos in the U.S. voted or planned to vote for Trump.  

"We are a community of many thoughts, of many backgrounds and we're a very diverse community," says Hernandez-Paris. "So the fact the some individuals vote differently represents some of their values."