The next presidential election is 14 months away, but the mean-spirited tone and nasty personal insults — a fair share of which are originating from the mouth of bellicose businessman Donald Trump — pollute the airways rather than presenting concrete proposals to improve Americans’ lives and create jobs.
Realistically, what are the chances that the Republican Party would nominate a bombastic billionaire like Trump, with no previous political experience, to contend for the presidency against the Democrats? Trump, whose rhetorical routine includes insulting women, other candidates, Latinos, the Chinese, the Japanese and President Barack Obama, and who promises to deport 11 million immigrants who entered the country illegally back to Mexico — and would only let “the good ones back” into the U.S.
The public has, as yet, not been updated on just why or how, as president, Trump would deport 11 or so million people — or what criteria he would use for determining who “the good ones” are. Recently, Trump criticized Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish in front of a Spanish-speaking audience, which is typical Trump. Among the New Yorker’s more draconian proposals is to tweak the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in order to deny citizenship to those born in the United States. Frankly, that will never fly, but it seems to boost his poll numbers.
At the outset of Trump’s candidacy — after labeling Mexican immigrants as rapists, criminals and killers, and making hateful, spurious remarks directed at various targets — it seemed far-fetched to imagine Trump as a serious candidate.
But here he is in September, on top of most polls that measure public support for Republican candidates.
Trump’s 30 percent support level led the Republican field as of Sept. 3, albeit a recent CNN poll showed that 82 percent of Latinos have unfavorable opinions of him.
Some of his Republican rivals are joining in the Trump hard-line club; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proposes setting up a FedEx-type system that tracks every one entering the U.S. legally “from the moment you come in.”
And Ben Carson suggests using armed drones on the border; presumably the idea involves shooting those trying to enter illegally.
When Creekside Garden Cafe owner Ramon De Alba first heard Trump’s verbal attacks against Mexican immigrants, he said, “It really hurt me — a lot … a lot. Not all of us are bad. Immigrants came here to get a better future. So for me, Trump is totally wrong.
“Trump depends on Hispanic people whether they’re legal or illegal. They build his hotels and golf courses,” De Alba stated, on the back deck of Creekside earlier this week.
The restaurant owner said he and other Latinos were “very disappointed” after the U.S. Senate passed legislation in 2013 offering a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants — but the Tea Party-dominated House of Representatives never brought the legislation up for a vote.
That denial of a vote sent a strong message that Republicans don’t want undocumented Latinos to have an opportunity to become U.S. citizens. Many conservatives referred to the Senate’s 2013 legislation as “amnesty” — never mind that it was not a free pass to citizenship and would have required about five years of effort, including learning English and joining the military or participating in some kind of service to the country.
De Alba came into the U.S. legally, with a work visa. He worked for Linn’s, and began at Creekside 30 years ago as a dishwasher. In time, he graduated to bus boy, waiter, manager, and finally, he became the owner.
He is proud of his U.S. citizenship and is a frequent participant in fundraising for Cambria’s community organizations.
When Fidel Figueroa, co-owner of San Simeon Beach Bar & Grill and San Simeon Lodge, and La Terraza Mexican Restaurant in Cambria, first heard Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, he thought it was “a joke.” But, Figueroa went on, “We have to take him very, very seriously. He’s a threat to the Latino community even though the things he’s saying are not possible.
“He’s really, really going to hurt the Hispanic community if he wins. Everything he says, that we’re rapists, we’re criminals — that’s not true. He can’t categorize us like that. And how can you deport 11 million people?
“It will be a huge impact on the Latino community if he is elected,” Figueroa said during an interview in his restaurant. “It’ll be crazy. For a small business like us, we may have to close our doors. In my motel, right now, I have four housekeepers. I need to have eight. A recent study shows fewer and fewer immigrants are coming in.
“They’re making it harder for immigrants to come in. I’m having a problem with cooks. There’s no cooks, no dishwashers, no housekeepers available,” Figueroa said.
Figueroa entered the U.S. from Mexico in 1989 with a passport. He washed dishes, waited tables, and paid his dues working in restaurants. In 1994, he graduated from Coast Union High School and became a U.S. citizen in 2001. He has a daughter who graduated from Coast Union in 2011, and his son, Fidel Figueroa Jr., is a sophomore this year.
“I love this country,” Figueroa said in conclusion of the interview. “I love the opportunity this country has given me.”