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'He's My Candidate Now.' Latino Republican On Why He Supports Trump


Right now we want to take a moment to return to a subject we began looking at yesterday - the challenges faced by both political parties as they try to win the White House this fall. We spoke about the Democrats before.

Today, we turn to the Republicans. And we're going to drill down into one of the enduring storylines of this election - Donald Trump's relationship with Hispanic voters. As you probably know, some of Trump's most controversial comments have been aimed at Mexico, Mexican immigrants and even Mexican-Americans, like the federal judge who is presiding over a lawsuit against him.

Many people find those comments offensive, and that's led some high-profile Republicans, including former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, to say they cannot vote for Trump under any circumstance. We'll hear from former Secretary Gutierrez in just a few minutes.

But we want to start with a perspective you may not have heard very often - a politically active Latino Republican who says he's not only supporting Donald Trump but raising money for him. He is Jacob Montilijo Monty. He's an immigration attorney in Houston, Texas. He tells us he's a third-generation Mexican-American and that his wife was born in Mexico. Monty tells us he finds Trump's comments nativist and simplistic. But despite that, he says he's going to host a fundraiser for Donald Trump later this week.

JACOB MONTILIJO MONTY: He wasn't my first choice or my second choice. But he tapped into a feeling among Americans that candidly, I think I had underestimated. You know, we've been fighting for immigration reform for a long time. And we have been dismissive, I think, of people that have legitimate fears of immigrants, fears of the border. And they're out there, and I really see Donald Trump as a bridge to that constituency. It's an important constituency because they're holding up immigration reform in the House right now. And I see Donald Trump as our best shot at getting immigration reform.

MARTIN: Well, you know, in fact, in your piece in The Daily Caller, you made the Nixon in China argument for people who may not recall that, you know, the late President Nixon was a very, you know, strong anti-Communist who paved the way for the opening with China. And what gave you the idea that - perhaps that Donald Trump could be the vehicle to getting comprehensive immigration reform? Because one of the arguments for his campaign to this point has been the opposite of that.

MONTY: Absolutely. And what gives me hope is that he's a businessman. Strictly from a business point of view, building a wall that's 2,000 miles long is not practical. Deporting 12 or 13 million people is not practical if you want to keep eating protein or eating vegetables or staying in hotels. I mean, the fact that he's a businessman gives me some hope that that is rhetoric, words, and that he will be someone who can bring people together. He appears to have a record of bringing different groups together in a business sense when he's building a hotel or a development. So I have hope there.

MARTIN: I did want to ask about your thoughts about what he said about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel being accused of being biased because he, quote, "happens to be, we believe, Mexican." Yourself being an attorney, an officer of the court and a third generation Mexican-American, I just wondered if you had some thoughts about that.

MONTY: Well, absolutely. You know, litigants have views about judges when they don't get rulings that go their way, and that's understandable. But to ascribe race or ethnicity to those rulings without any evidence is not proper, and he needs to understand now that he's not just a private litigant. He is the leader of the Republican Party. And, you know, that type of sour grapes, if you will, after a ruling is not appropriate. And I certainly don't stand by, you know, those statements that he said.

MARTIN: But you are still going to hold a fundraiser for him.

MONTY: Absolutely. I can see, you know, beyond the words. And I can see a man who I believe has a record of bringing people together. I don't have a lot of hope with the Democrats. You know, in 2008, President Obama promised immigration reform in his first term. Those were his promises. He didn't deliver. He had an opportunity when he controlled both houses of Congress, and he chose health care reform over immigration reform. And that stings. And the Latino community has not forgotten about that. You know, at the onset, I said I view everything through the immigration reform prism. That is my issue. And as weird as it sounds, I think Donald Trump is the person that can actually help us achieve immigration reform.

MARTIN: That's Jacob Montilijo Monty. He is holding a fundraiser for Donald Trump later this week, and he was kind enough to join us from member station KPFT in Houston. Mr. Monty, thank you so much for speaking with us.

MONTY: Thank you very much, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.