Ruben Navarrette: 'High-spanics' sell out to Donald Trump at White House reception

Ruben Navarrette column
Ruben Navarrette commentary
Tribune graphic
We are part of The Trust Project.

SAN DIEGO — Not widely known for their math skills, Hispanics have nonetheless mastered division.

And President Trump — like President Obama before him — is taking full advantage of the eagerness of Hispanics to divide themselves into factions.

Obama deported 3 million people, most of them Hispanic. Trump seems determined to make life for Hispanics in America so miserable that even some of those born in this country want to self-deport. Both presidents separated refugee families, put children in cages and dumped the U.S.-born children of deported immigrants into foster care where some are adopted by American families.

You would think that a tribe of 59 million people — representing 18% of the U.S. population, with an annual buying power of $1.8 trillion — would rise up in protest.

But we don't rise up. We divide up.


Some Hispanics are so busy trying to be successful that they don't think about the folks in our community who are just struggling to survive a darker reality — the dropout, the addict, the working poor, the prison inmate.

They're so eager to be considered "winners" that they forget that no one wins unless everyone wins.

Eventually, the tendency of Hispanics to cannibalize one another became known to one of the most devious groups of all: politicians.

Eager to cover up their misdeeds, Obama and Trump both figured out that the climbers could be bought off with a few kind words and an invitation to the White House.

A sliver of Hispanics turned into High-spanics. They get a degree from a fancy university, and a little money in their pockets. And they think they're the chosen few. Driven by ego, and content to be the only brown face in a boardroom, the cream of the crop doesn't often think about the less fortunate.

They're too preoccupied thinking about what they're going to wear to a hoity-toity White House reception during Hispanic Heritage Month.

On Sept. 27, dozens of High-spanics gathered at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — as they do each year, no matter who is president or how badly their community is treated — to gobble appetizers and be told they're special.

"This evening, we come together to honor the devotion, and the drive, and the faith, and genius, and exceptional achievements of our incredible Hispanic American community, right?" Trump told the crowd.


For the last four years, as a Mexican American, I've felt like my greatest achievement is surviving Donald Trump.

A few days after the reception, it was reported that Trump often brainstorms about border security. According to a new book, his ideas have included suggestions to fill moats with alligators and tell Border Patrol agents to shoot immigrants in the legs to stop them from running.

Trump has been disrespecting Hispanics — specifically Mexicans and Mexican Americans — since he declared his candidacy in June 2015, and he has never stopped. He seems to enjoy it too much to ever give it up.

Trump talks flippantly about how the United States is facing an "invasion" from the South. That's the same language used by 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, who, on Aug. 3, killed 22 people and injured 24 others (most of them Mexican or Mexican American) at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Crusius later told police that he intended to "kill as many Mexicans as possible."

Most ominously, Trump has surrendered his administration's immigration policy to the viperous Stephen Miller — whose vitriol toward foreigners is so clearly on display that he was literally depicted as a snake in a recent skit on NBC's "Saturday Night Live."

I bet snakes everywhere were offended.

A few weeks ago, Trump went to New Mexico to court the votes of conservative Hispanics and couldn't help but stick his foot in his mouth. He doted on television commentator Steve Cortes, a pro-Trump hack who the president declared "looks more like a WASP than I do." Then he put Cortes on the spot, asking him: "Who do you like more: The country or Hispanics?"

Cortes answered, "The country." Shocker.


"We love our Hispanics!" bellowed Trump.

I'm proud to say I'm not one of Trump's Hispanics. You won't see me at the White House. Nor, going forward, will you see me dedicating any ink to any of the High-spanics who came running when Trump ran the dinner bell. They're dead to me.

What's wrong with these people? What a sad and pathetic bunch. How low must their self-esteem be that — despite all their accomplishments — they still need to feel better about themselves by seeking validation from the likes of Donald Trump?

Ruben Navarrette can be reached at

What To Read Next
From the commentary: (Pete) Buttigieg connects with voters. He could be the Democrats' presidential candidate. Or, as a replacement for not-much-loved Vice President Kamala Harris
From the commentary: The American business community is about creating jobs, bolstering our economy, and solving problems, and it will support candidates that bring answers and not fear. That message is a recipe for success for either party to embrace.
From the commentary: In another America where laws were once supposed to be equally enforced (the exception being the rule) and truth was not personal, this would likely not have been a problem.
"Life is short, ends in a moment, and we don’t think much about it some days. ... It’s a scenic highway, and we should keep it that way, go a bit slower, and enjoy life."