Trump sowing seeds of fear in Latino communities living in Colorado mountains

March 18, 2016, 7:00 am

trump-nazi-saluteIt’s important to call out and stand up to bullies, even just verbal ones, no matter where you find them. That’s a lesson I’ve been imparting to my three sons their whole lives, and it’s really ringing true these days with Donald Trump inciting an environment of hatred and fear in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Monday night I served on a media panel of two with veteran Vail Daily reporter Randy Wyrick (thanks, Randy, that was fun … and hopefully informative) at a Family Leadership Training Institute event in Edwards.

Several local FLTI members, who also happen to be very thoughtful, engaged and clearly concerned members of Eagle County’s Latino community, spoke out about the lack of positive coverage of Hispanic residents of the Vail Valley.

Estimated at a third of Eagle County’s population, local Latinos – at least those who spoke up at Monday’s FLTI event — feel their very positive, peaceful and productive contribution to our mountain-resort community goes largely unnoticed by local media.

I’ll plead guilty as charged for my small role in that white washing by the local media. The few times I’ve seriously written about issues of race in the Vail Valley have been for national publications when the outside world puts us under its microscope, such as during the Kobe Bryant case in 2003.

Nuanced and in-depth coverage of local Latino leaders and businesses, they feel, would help to counteract the effect Trump has had on their community, with children now very fearful they will be rounded up and deported should Trump get elected.

I pointed out to them the encouraging sign that Eagle County and neighboring Summit County Republicans both unofficially selected Marco Rubio as their preferred presidential candidate at Super Tuesday caucuses, picking a man who was part of the successful Senate passage of the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill that died in the House.

Of course, in an effort to win the nomination of his increasingly unhinged party, Rubio renounced comprehensive immigration reform – a move that did nothing to quell the rising tide of anti-establishment loathing of all things Washington. Rubio instead was forced out of the race this week by Trump’s runaway hate train.

I think Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton said it best on Tuesday:

“Our next commander in chief has to be able to defend our country, not embarrass it – engage our allies, not alienate them,” Clinton said of Trump. “When we hear a candidate for president call for rounding up 12 million immigrants, barring all Muslims from entering the United States, when he embraces torture, that doesn’t make him strong, it makes him wrong.”

There was a broken fire-suppression pipe in our apartment building in Avon this winter, flooding 22 units and causing massive damage. Without the highly professional, skilled and unfailingly courteous and respectful immigrant laborers who descended on the building, we would still be living in a construction zone. They got the building back up and running in a month. Similarly, my wife and I are buying a duplex under construction in Eagle-Vail, and the builders there are fast, very good at what they do, and work in virtually any weather.

They always smile, wave and are clearly proud of what they’re building when we stop by. I shudder to think what it would cost and how long it would take to build our new home without these conscientious and hard-working men. The same is true of our loyal and dedicated cleaning ladies who have been with us for years and feel like a part of our family.

And I don’t mean to suggest that Latinos only comprise our blue-collar workforce. There are many important and influential members of the Vail Valley community who own businesses, are politically active and fill some of the critical white-collar jobs that are vital to our success as a global resort destination – one that is immensely popular with Latin American guests.

This is not purely a relationship built on economics, however, because our two communities are really one. There is a social interaction and connection that involves our children, who attend public schools that in some cases are majority Latino. Our sons have all attended a dual language elementary school and are all the richer for the cultural diversity of their education.

Trump knows he can’t build a wall and charge the Mexican government, but just the promise that he’ll round up 12 million undocumented workers and erect that wall is enough to get him nominated by a party that’s been taken over by the Tea Party extremists who would shut down the government and cut off all social programs.

However, even if Trump pivots after winning the nomination, the damage has been done. He’s shown that anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim hate speech and raising a Nazi salute is the fastest way onto the GOP ticket. He’s also shown that anti-government rhetoric resonates with his paranoid and delusional constituency, but that too can have unintended consequences.

Trump may not believe everything coming out of his own mouth and may be spewing some of his vitriol purely for effect, but just as the anti-Planned-Parenthood campaign led to a mass shooting in Colorado Springs last summer, Trump may be responsible for some future attack on law-abiding Muslims or Latino immigrants. Certainly he’s pouring gas on the flames of the raging public lands debate and possibly inciting a takeover of another government facility.

That will be blood on his hands, and every decent member of his own party needs to speak out now and do all they can to disavow the division Trump is sowing in our society. By pandering to the lowest common denominator of our population, Trump is fueling a culture of intolerance, fear and hatred that will poison all our kids, no matter their religion or race.

Did any politician threaten to deport or ban all white, anti-government, war veterans after Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building and killed 168 men, women and children in Oklahoma City in 1995? No, but perhaps they should have, because those likeminded members of the so-called patriot movement are now card-carrying Tea Party believers and Trump-lovers.

They are dangerous, and they need to be called out for what they are: racist hate-mongers.

Now here’s an update on what the Republican Party, which controls both chambers of Congress, is doing to reform and fix the long-ignored immigration system in our country. This press release is from Vail Valley Congressional Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat from Boulder:

Polis statement on Republicans’ anti-immigrant amicus brief

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Jared Polis (CO-02) released the following statement Thursday following a resolution authorizing the Speaker of the House to file an anti-immigrant amicus brief. The resolution comes amidst the Supreme Court’s selection to review the Appeals Court decision to halt the implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:

“After not passing a single bill to fix our broken immigration system, Republicans are now attacking the little progress made on the issue in recent years,” said Polis. “The President’s order to prioritize the removal of serious criminals over the parents of American kids not only embodies American values, but makes us safer.”

“The court decision that halted these programs was founded in politics, not in any statute or legal precedent. The amicus brief submitted today is politically charged and does nothing but waste Congressional time and taxpayer dollars. I remain confident that the Supreme Court will reverse the Fifth Circuit’s decision, and I hope House leadership will begin to prioritize comprehensive reform for hard-working immigrant families and Americans.”

Rep. Jared Polis will also be managing debate on H.Res. 649 on the House floor later [Thursday] morning.

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David O. Williams
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Politics formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington),, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of and

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