Barrera’s neighbors are Border Patrol and U.S. Customs agents, veterans and oil and gas workers, who he argues are naturally conservative. Many Latinos here also identify as White and don’t subscribe to a pan-ethnic identity apart from their Texan identity.
“Hispanics have been acculturated in Texas over many generations and because of that, their perceptions are much more like that of the Anglo population,” said Jason Villalba, president of the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation.
University of Texas San Antonio political scientist Sharon Navarro said the conservatism of some Texas Latinos is nothing new, particularly in rural communities. The difference this year is that Republicans did the work to court these voters and tailor their message about the election around the economy and jobs.
Republicans said they are convinced that the margins they won in the Rio Grande Valley and beyond is a sign that the region’s politics are trending in their favor.