Trump’s Latino support

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Throughout the country, Hispanic voters cast more ballots for Donald Trump than anyone expected.

And in Texas, Democrats were taken aback at Trump’s strong performance in the Rio Grande Valley. While Joe Biden won majorities in most, Trump won more votes from the region than in 2016.

All this has huge implications for the future of Texas politics. Democrats have long hoped (and perhaps assumed) that Texas Hispanics would be the driving force behind an enduring majority, if only they would vote in large numbers. But these voters are up for grabs.

The party that comes up with the right pitch will be the one that understands the diversity within the Latino vote. Indeed, it may be time to stop even referring to such a single entity.

The first step is cultural competence, veteran Democratic political operative Chuck Rocha says. Rocha, a Tyler native, was a top strategist to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, which consistently performed well among Latinos in the Democratic primaries.

For example, he noted, in West Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, a swing district that runs from San Antonio to just outside of El Paso, you can’t reach Latino voters with Spanish-language ads in San Antonio. In small towns, they get information from weekly Spanish newspapers, FM radio and mail.

The assumption was that Latino voters were immediately turned off by Donald Trump’s harsh words about Mexicans and remained angry about his focus on illegal immigration. And millions no doubt did.

But as with Sanders, the populism that Trump injected into the GOP might have won over some Latinos. Rocha said his polling indicated that many Latino voters, particularly men, are receptive to a candidate who pledges to battle a “rigged system” so that they and their families get a fair shake.

That’s an important note for Republicans. If they’re going to build on Trump’s relative success, they must abandon the hope that just fixing their immigration rhetoric and policies will be enough. Latinos, like all voters, want to hear about policies that will improve their lives.

Sex trafficking

The Dallas Morning News

If you think prostitution is merely an economic choice or a victimless crime, consider the federal case that is now being brought against Billie Joe Sanford.

Sanford, who is 37, was arrested in Dallas recently after meeting with a man claiming to be a human trafficker. The man, who was actually an undercover federal agent, said he had a woman under under his control who refused to be sold for sex, and he needed someone to destroy her will to resist.

That’s where Sanford allegedly came in. He responded to an online ad, the feds say, and promised that he could break her for a fee, and would inflict such severe mental and emotional trauma that she would obey the trafficker’s every command. The objective here, apparently, was to make her compliant with being forced into sexual slavery so the trafficker could make a fortune off of her.

Sanford was arrested when he met the undercover agent to, apparently, start torturing the woman.

We’ve been advocating for sex trafficking reforms and calling on law enforcement agents to pull out the stops to arrest and prosecute traffickers and johns for more than two years now for reasons illustrated by the case against Sanford.

The life a sex-trafficking victim faces is one of demented torture, control and trauma that disorients her to the point of often making decisions that seem incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t delved deeply into this issue. Law enforcement officials tell us traffickers use drug addiction, shame, physical abuse and threats of violence to coerce their victims into compliance.

Too often society is willing to look the other way, and too often well-meaning people nurse the belief that trafficking victims are actually making a rational economic choice to engage in “the life” of prostitution.

Too often our community has been willing to punish sex-trafficking victims instead of treating them as the victims they are and chasing the real perpetrators of these vicious and vile crimes. In other words, society itself has been in a fog about this crime.