Some Treasure Valley Latinos feel ‘scared’ and ‘hopeless’ after Trump win

Ivan Carrillo in his office at the law firm of Ramirez-Smith & Tvinnereim Friday.
Ivan Carrillo in his office at the law firm of Ramirez-Smith & Tvinnereim Friday. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Rebecca De Leon and Ivan Carrillo fear that Donald Trump’s election will unleash a wave of harassment against Latinos and other minorities.

The first signs of this abuse started just hours after Trump became president-elect, said De Leon, a local advocate for Latinos, and Carrillo, a paralegal at the immigration law firm Ramirez-Smith and Tvinnereim.

Late Tuesday night, Carrillo said he went to bed but couldn’t sleep.

“I went to social media, and I’m seeing people who I thought were my friends that are saying racist things and just overly happy for Trump’s win,” he said.

The next day, Carrillo said, his office was flooded with calls from people who wanted to know what would happen to them and their loved ones. Then, in the afternoon, a new type of call started coming in — from parents who said their kids had been racially harassed in school. Classmates as young as middle school were warning the Latino children that they would be kicked out of the country, Carrillo said.

“These students, these young kids, they are looking up to (Trump),” Carrillo said. “They look up to the president. They look up to their parents who are saying what the president says, which is, ‘All Mexicans are bad. All Muslims are bad.’ 

Latinos fear the prospect of Trump enacting aggressive anti-immigration policies. That includes a potential repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an executive order President Barack Obama signed in 2012 that delays deportation for people between the ages of 16 and 31 who were brought illegally to the United States as children.


Trump’s critics say his descriptions of Mexican immigrants and his plans to build a border wall and order immigrants here without legal documents deported have created a hostile atmosphere.

“He’s made it acceptable to be racist,” Carrillo said. “And they have learned it’s acceptable to say those things. So I think there is a movement to be against any other race that is not white.”

De Leon said racial bullying has shot up in schools around the Treasure Valley since Trump hit the campaign trail last year.

“Racism has always existed in Idaho and has always been pretty deeply embedded in Idaho, and in the whole country, really,” De Leon said. “The only problem is that, now that Trump is elected, those people now feel more entitled. They feel like they have more of a right to be a lot more open and mean about it because our president has done it and said these terrible things.”

It’s like it was back when Idaho had those ‘No Mexicans allowed’ signs in their stores. That wasn’t that long ago. And it seems like we’re heading right back to that.

Rebecca De Leon, on the Treasure Valley’s postelection environment

Just about every Latino in the United States has a friend or family member staying who is here under DACA, entered the country illegally or has some other kind of immigration problem, De Leon said.

“I have a friend who was brought to the United States when he was 1, didn’t speak any Spanish, didn’t know Mexico,” De Leon said. “And when he was 30, he got in some legal trouble and was deported to a country he knew nothing about. And that was over 10 years ago. And he still hasn’t been able to come back. He has four children here.”


Like all voters, Latinos consider a range of issues in picking which candidates they support. But immigration is by far the most important one. Hope for a fair, charitable policy binds together people with vastly different backgrounds and values, De Leon said.

Latinos found Trump’s immigration proposals and statements about Mexicans repulsive. So why did almost 30 percent vote for him?

“My theory is that a lot of them have Mexican heritage. And in Mexico, corruption is the worst thing ever. There’s really not that much racism in Mexico,” De Leon said. “Whether or not Hillary Clinton is as corrupt as they say is kind of irrelevant, because that was the message about her that was out there. And a lot of Mexicans said, ‘I’d rather have a racist president than a corrupt president.’ 

Carrillo suspects other issues factored into the Latino vote. He said most of the Latinos he knew who supported Trump are citizens, so they’re less worried about their immigration status. Some of these voters figured Trump will help them get wealthy because he’s wealthy, or they like the fact that he’s a political outsider, Carrillo said.

Yes, he’s a businessman. But he has also abused the system, not paying taxes, going bankrupt. He has his companies in other countries, so how is he saying that he’s going to make more jobs in America if he has opened up businesses in other countries to get cheap labor?

Ivan Carrillo, on Donald Trump

Others backed Trump “because they think that ... Hillary was going to take away their guns, or that Hillary believes in abortion,” Carrillo said.

De Leon said local leaders convened a meeting Wednesday in Nampa and Thursday in Boise to talk about their community’s fear about what a Trump presidency means. The Statesman was not allowed to attend, she said, because the meetings’ organizers wanted to make sure everyone felt comfortable speaking freely.

“Latinos are sad,” she said. “They’re scared. They’re angry. All of these terrible feelings. We feel betrayed by our own country.”

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