Donald Trump’s popularity is low in New York City, his home town. The news doesn’t come as a surprise to many, however, as Trump’s rhetoric on illegal immigration turns roughly half the city’s constituents off and nearly 40 percent of New York City’s population is made up of immigrants and their children.
What is a surprise, though, is that Donald Trump is going into Tuesday’s New York primary with a double-digit lead on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. According to CNN, Trump’s popularity in upstate and rural New York state is strong and he stands to gain nearly 95 delegates with a New York win.
Trump has avoided New York City as much as possible during the New York primary push. He will hold a rally in Donald-friendly Buffalo on Monday night.
Donald Trump does have friends in New York. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani already said he’ll vote for Trump. Other Republican leaders won’t, though. Former Gov. George Pataki has already endorsed Kasich while former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg almost ran as an independent against Trump.
Trump’s stance on immigration rankles a huge segment of New York City’s voters. His website still touts the proposed wall between the U.S. and Mexico, with Mexico footing the bill. His proposed immigration reforms include mandatory return of all criminal aliens and detaining all illegal aliens. Trump also threatens to cut off funding for any city that doesn’t comply with the proposed laws and harsher penalties for folks who overstay their welcomes, staying past their temporary visa expiration dates.
These are all popularity killers in states like New York.
The polarizing Trump has some immigrant supporters in the city, though. According to The New York Times, thousands of callers responding to a Russian-language radio station in the city supported Trump. Then there is Anand Ahuja, founder of Indian-Americans for Trump 2016, who endorses legal immigration and agrees with Trump on illegals. Ahuja, a lawyer in his mid-60’s, said, “You should not reward people who have broken the law. You follow the law, (you) get punished. That’s why I like Donald Trump when he says, ‘Let’s build a wall.'”
Tony Mele, 55, the chairman of the Latino National Republican Coalition of Rockland County, put it a different way.
“When you’re in New York,” he said, “and you’re standing on the long line for tickets to a show, or in the supermarket, what happens when one person jumps the line with a cart? It’s like, ‘Oh no you’re not!’ I don’t care if it’s Mexico, Ecuador, what island you came from.”
Other New Yorkers don’t see the issue the same way.
Ron Kim is a Korean-American Democratic Assemblyman from Queens, where Trump grew up. Kim’s mostly Asian constituents are “absolutely terrified” by Trump’s continued success. “Is this the beginning of hateful candidates coming up to national platforms?” Kim said. “I think for a community like mine, they fear that.”
And Donald Trump turns off younger New Yorkers, too.
Lianna Remigao, whose parents hail from the Dominican Republic, plans on voting for Bernie Sanders. Remigao addressed a common concern about Trump amongst younger voters: diversity. “You can’t represent New York City and claim you’re a New Yorker if you’re so against the diversity and the melting pot that is this country — New York City, especially,” she said. “We have the Statue of Liberty that represents great things, welcoming people into America.”
Remigao’s boyfriend, Julian Irizarry, had little respect for Trump. “I don’t look at him as a New Yorker. I look at him the way I look at Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian,” he said, “someone who’s just famous and rich.”
Trump is famous and rich. His name is splashed on real estate developments throughout the city. He lives in the penthouse of his 52-story Trump International Hotel and Tower on Central Park West. Legally, he is a New Yorker.
[Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP]