‘Same values’: Meet Trump’s unlikely supporters

Camille Elemia
‘Same values’: Meet Trump’s unlikely supporters
A Filipino-Japanese immigrant, a Mexican, and a few other Latinos are among the unlikely supporters Rappler meets at President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona

ARIZONA, United States – US President Donald Trump launched his West Coast campaign at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Wednesday, February 19,  attended by thousands of people including some seemingly unlikely supporters.

Arizona, a known conservative state, is now widely seen as a battleground for the November 2020 presidential elections.

Some of those who attended Trump’s “Keep America Great” rally had to stay outside the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum and watch the event on a screen.

Rappler met some unlikely supporters of Trump – people who belong to groups and communities usually targeted or criticized by the President.

Marcelino Ramos, 50, is a son of Filipino and Japanese immigrants. Having lived in the US his entire life, he said he views himself as an “American first.” 

Ramos said he supports Trump because they share the same values.

“Because President Trump has the same values as I do: power back to the people, smaller government, and he also has done a lot for this country in terms of economy, holding control on illegal immigration, as well as for a lot for ethnic groups,” Ramos told Rappler.

Asked how he would reconcile his background and his support for Trump and his anti-immigrant policies, Ramos said: “I say if you’re an immigrant and you’re here legally and you’re working your way toward citizenship, you’re American first. That’s what I consider myself regardless of my ethnicity.”

In the end, he said nothing could change his mind about Trump. “No, I would be voting for him in 2020,” he said.

Photo by Camille Elemia/Rappler

Isaac Cobos, 36, is a US citizen of Mexican descent. Trump has repeatedly slammed Mexicans and has strongly pushed for the construction of walls in the southwest.

“I believe in everything that he’s doing, everything he is about. This is my first rally so I said, let’s see. I think what he’s doing is benefits us…. I’m all for his immigration policies,” Cobos told Rappler.

Cobos said he believes Trump’s strict immigration policy would help him in his job. The US President and his people have blamed migrants and undocumented workers for supposedly taking jobs from Americans – a claim debunked by labor and liberal groups.

A few other people carrying “Latinos for Trump” posters rallied support for the President.

Photo by Camille Elemia/Rappler

For Nicole Rogers, 34, being gay has not kept her from supporting Trump, who has reversed policies favoring members of the LGBTQ+ community.

ProPublica reported that since taking office, “Trump’s administration has acted to dismantle federal protections and resources for LGBTQ Americans, particularly those gained under President Barack Obama.”

“He supported people like me since Day 1 and it is our duty to support him back. The LGBTQ is not me. I’m American, I’m Donald Trump; that’s me…. I don’t know with those people, they’re uneducated. They react based on their emotions. There’s nothing that Donald Trump says that offended me. I’m not sensitive,” Rogers said.

Trump’s strict immigration policies, she said, are the “best.” 

“I’m from the border state, New Mexico. Illegal immigration is one of the best things he’s done. Lots of illegals are crossing.”

When pointed out that the influx of illegal immigration usually do not come from the border, she said: “I guess I can see that but where I’m from, I’m seeing the opposite. It’s an ugly world.”

However, several earlier interviews with officials and residents in border towns – such as in Douglas and Nogales in Arizona – contradict the notion that their areas are dangerous. 

Douglas Mayor Robert Uribe and police chief Kraig Fullen had said that their crime and drug problems are lower compared to other places. (READ: Living on the edge: Life in the U.S.-Mexico border)

Protests

Rappler also met 3 anti-Trump teenagers who went on their own to join the rally. They held posters slamming the administration’s immigration policies, specifically the construction of border walls between the US and Mexico.

At one point, older Trump supporters confronted and lectured them but the girls did not stand down.

CONFRONTATION. Some older Trump supporters lecture anti-Trump teenagers. Photo by Camille Elemia/Rappler

“I’m here to represent the Hispanic group because I feel we’re not really represented due to the fact they don’t take the time to listen to us. And I just want people to know we’re not bad people. We have a voice and we care for our people,” said 17-year-old Emily.

“We wanted to express our viewpoints to any Trump supporters that are open-minded; at least give a thought that not all Phoenix is for Trump…. We’re not just here to take everything from the Americans. We’re here to get a job, to help the economy grow,” said Aileen, 15.

ANTI-TRUMP. Taken hours before Trump's arrival, this photo shows protesters holding signs against the President. Photo by Camille Elemia/Rappler

NUT HOUSE. A 6th generation Arizona resident holds a sign to protest Trump's policies. Photo by Camille Elemia/Rappler

Here are other photos at the Trump rally.

WHITE. Most attendees of Trump's Phoenix rally were middle aged white Americans. Photo by Camille Elemia/Rappler

VETERAN. An 80-year-old  Vietnam War veteran at Trump's campaign rally. Photo by Camille Elemia/Rappler

VENUE AT CAPACITY. Other supporters had to stay outside. Photo by Cui Chentao

– Rappler.com 

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com