Democracy & Government

The Ultimate ‘Bad Hombre’

There he goes again: In the campaign's final debate, Trump doubled down on insulting Latinos.

The Ultimate ‘Bad Hombre’

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's comments about immigrants have led to protests across the country. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s disdain for undocumented people bubbled over again during the last presidential debate of 2016. Is he so intent on Trump TV that he wants to expand Hillary Clinton’s edge with the nation’s 27 million eligible Latino voters?

Asked by moderator Chris Wallace to clarify his immigration policy, the Republican nominee went retro. “We have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out,” Trump said. He mangled the Spanish word for men, making it sound like “hammers” — the plural form of “hunger.” Its usage evoked bigoted tough guys in corny 1950s movies and inspired taco-truck jokes on Twitter.

What about the good guys? “Once the border is secured, at a later date, we’ll make a determination as to the rest,” the alleged sexual predator explained. In other words, millions of lives will remain on hold until Mexico pays for Trump’s wall.

His callousness magnified Clinton’s compassion. “I don’t want to rip families apart,” she said. “I don’t want to be sending parents away from children.” If Trump were to mobilize the “deportation force” force of his dreams, the Democratic nominee added, “law enforcement officers would be going school to school, home to home, business to business, rounding up people who are undocumented.”

It was a strange line of argument, even for him.

The former secretary of state also berated Trump for having employed immigrants lacking papers. Flustered, Trump blurted that President Barack Obama has been deporting millions of people — an accurate statement that undercuts Trump’s own rants. How can current immigration enforcement efforts be both weak and, in his words, “big league”? How does the Obama administration’s deportation record support Trump’s accusation that Clinton wants to open US borders to unfettered immigration?

Based on Trump’s acknowledgement in the second debate of his use of “wonderful” tax loopholes, Clinton also surmised that undocumented people pay more federal taxes than the self-described billionaire. Instead of denying this accusation, he blamed her for it. Laws passed by people like her have “entitled” moguls like him to that free ride, he said. It was a strange line of argument, even for him.

The Republican later reprised false generalizations about communities of color and modern urban life. “Our inner cities are a disaster. You get shot walking to the store. They have no education. They have no jobs,” Trump said. (They who?) “I will do more for African-Americans and Latinos than she can ever do in 10 lifetimes.”

Actually, both crime rates and poverty rates are declining. And the suburbs are becoming more diverse as people of color exit urban centers.

Clinton held a daunting lead over Trump among likely Hispanic voters before they faced off in Las Vegas. She was poised to beat him by 67 percent to 17 percent, according to recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal polling that included third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.

Has Trump slunk lower with this key demographic? Probably. He bombed with the viewers and followers of Univision, the nation’s leading Spanish-language network. A poll of its audience on all platforms after this final showdown found that Clinton won by 93 percent to 7 percent.

The bigger question is how many of these voters will get to the polls. “We have a bad reputation” in terms of turnout, anchorman Jorge Ramos told viewers. Only 48 percent of eligible Latino voters cast ballots in the 2012 election. And this is a year when Trump supporters want to intimidate voters who appear to be immigrants.

In the end, this debate will be remembered for Trump’s unwillingness to commit in advance to honoring the will of the people should he lose to his opponent. Only a bad hombre could pull a political stunt like that.

Emily Schwartz Greco

Freelance writer Emily Schwartz Greco is the former managing editor of the OtherWords editorial service. She covered Latin America for the Bloomberg and Dow Jones news services. Follow her on Twitter: @ESGreco and learn more at ESGreco.com.