Latino New Yorkers React to Trump’s Election

Mariachi sol Mixteco marches down the street from Trump Tower on the night of the election, hours before Donald Trump was declared the next president-elect. (The Ink/Angel Au-Yeung)

At 8 p.m. on election night, the sound track outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue included Mariachi sol Mixteco — a group of 12 violinists, trumpet players, guitarists and a harpist dressed in matching white suits and sombreros. As their music blared through the cacophony of traffic and sirens, onlookers and camera crews trailed after the group.

“We are celebrating the end of the elections,” said band member Mariela Navarro. One of the songs they played was called “Cielito Lindo,” which translates to “Sing and Do Not Cry.”

Hours later at 2:30 a.m., major news outlets including The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press and NPR declared Donald Trump the next President of the United States.

Given Donald Trump’s negative rhetoric towards Latino immigrants during his campaign, political analysts had expected the Latino vote to surge and strengthen Hillary Clinton’s path to the presidency. However, while Clinton captured 65 percent of the Latino vote in comparison to Trump’s 29 percent, Latinos only made up 11 percent of electorate, according to exit polls from The New York Times. With Trump as the new president-elect, Latino New Yorkers must face a new reality that includes a leader who advocates for unprecedented border patrol while calling Latino immigrants “rapists” and “killers.”

Johan Ortega, 32, the owner of New Green Age Contract, a sustainable construction business, was 8 years old when he came to America from Mexico with his parents as undocumented immigrants. He is protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), an immigration policy passed by President Barack Obama in 2012 that allowed undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit. This permit also protects him from deportation.

However, Ortega is ready for the possibility that he will have to go back to his home country now that Trump will be America’s 45th president. “Laws can change,” Ortega said. “Trump played to the white man’s fears of losing their country, and I fit in that criteria.”

Johan Ortega on the day after the election. (The Ink/Angel Au Yeung)

But Ortega also said that he understands how Trump won. “The quiet majority that never voted have been unhappy with Obama for a long time, and Trump woke up the sleeping giant,” he said. “Now that the minority is the majority, the immigrants are taking the jobs and you know, I get it. But I’ve paid my dues and I’m not depending on the government or on food stamps. I paid my fair share of taxes. Can Trump say that much?”

Undocumented immigrants have been a focal point in Trump’s platform and a divisive issue between the Democratic and Republican parties. But Latinos disagree on illegal immigration as well.

“I don’t support undocumented immigrants as my stepdad is an illegal immigrant,” said Andy Reyes, 16. Although he is not old enough to vote, he was one of thousands in the anti-Trump protests in front of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue the night after the election. “I have a younger brother and I don’t want him asking where his dad is one day.”

Reyes said he joined the anti-Trump rally because he believes Trump “spreads too much hate.”

Jessica Martinez, 23, was also present at the rally and said she was against Trump because of his behavior towards women. “A vote for Trump would have been a vote against me and my body,” she said.

Latino organizations are responding to America with Trump as the leader as well. The New York City Latino chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, a nonprofit that pairs adults with youths for mentorship, is building a new marketing strategy to recruit more mentors using America’s political climate to galvanize Latinos.

“I look at the overwhelming number of votes he received all across the country and I wonder what progress we have really made here,” said Paul Pabon, the longest-serving mentor at the group.

Anti-Trump protesters on Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower on Nov. 9. Torn pages from Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal” littered the streets. The many chants included: “Latino lives matter!” (The Ink/Angel Au-Yeung)