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Some Hispanic Trump backers pull support after Phoenix speech

Some Hispanic backers of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pulled their support after he stood by his hardline immigration stance and said anyone in the United States illegally would be subject to deportation if he were president.

Alfonso Aguilar, president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles advocacy group, said on Thursday he felt "disappointed and misled" by a fiery Trump speech in Phoenix, Arizona on Wednesday that dashed the hopes of conservative Latinos that the businessman would soften his views on immigration.

While polls show a large majority of Hispanic voters oppose Trump, the withdrawal of support from among of his small group of Latino backers underscores how difficult it is for Trump to broaden his support with minorities and moderate voters.

Aguilar said he had expected Trump to take a more compassionate approach to people in the country illegally after recent signs that his position was softening as the Nov. 8 election approaches.

"For the last two months he said he was not going to deport people without criminal records. He actually said that he was going to treat undocumented immigrants without criminal records in a humane and compassionate way," Aguilar, the former chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship under former Republican President George W. Bush, told CNN.

Aguilar said he opposed the policies of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton but he was withdrawing support for Trump.

In his Phoenix address, flagged as a major policy speech, Trump said that the only path to legal status for illegal immigrants was to leave and apply for re-entry. He also repeated a campaign promise to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying that country would pay for it.

Jacob Monty, a Texas attorney who advised Trump, said the New Yorker had appeared to be moving toward a "reasonable, pro-business" immigration plan.

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"He rejected that tonight and so I must reject him," Monty wrote on Facebook on Wednesday night.

At an appearance in Ohio on Thursday, Trump again hammered home his tough message on illegal immigration.

"We are going to uphold the laws of the nation and defend our sovereignty and security and we are going to defend our border," he told the American Legion veterans' group in Cincinnati.

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Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona.

Trump loses key Texas Hispanic backer after speech

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has lost a key Hispanic supporter in Texas — and deeply disappointed others — after his speech Wednesday night on immigration.

Houston immigration lawyer Jacob Monty said early Thursday morning that he had decided not only to resign from Trump's National Hispanic Advisory Council but also to stop raising money for the nominee in Texas. Politico first reported Monty was leaving the group, which has five other members from Texas.

Some Hispanic Republicans, including Monty, had hoped Trump would use his speech to outline a more thoughtful approach to the millions of people who are already in the country illegally. Instead, Trump stuck with the hardline views that got him through the primaries, appearing to back little away from his pledge to deport many people who are in the United States unlawfully.

"I am very disappointed in [Trump's] immigration speech," read a statement from Rick Figueroa, a member of Trump's Hispanic advisory group from Texas. "Instead of listening to wise counsel from his advisors and supporters in the Latino community, who actually have first hand experience in the area of immigration, he went in the opposite direction and doubled down on his policies and his rhetoric. This was a mistake."

Monty called the speech, which Trump delivered in Phoenix after a whirlwind trip to Mexico earlier in the day, a "complete betrayal to Republican ideals and his [commitments] made." Monty also said the GOP "must reclaim our Party from the [nativist] elements."

Monty had been all in for Trump, telling The Texas Tribune in an interview Monday that he was "unabashedly supporting" Trump because he believed Trump was the only candidate who could fix the immigration system. Monty was in the room earlier this month when Trump convened his Hispanic advisory council in New York, a meeting that left some with the impression he was interested in moderating his immigration beliefs.

Asked early Thursday morning if he would continue to raise money for Trump — as he has done for weeks in Houston — Monty replied: "No way Jose ... it is pouring money down the drain." He suggested he would instead focus on providing financial support for down-ballot races.

Figueroa, who helped introduce Trump at a rally last week in Austin, did not go as far as to renounce his support for Trump. In the statement, he said the GOP nominee remains a "better choice than Hillary Clinton."

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monty's resignation.

Trump's candidacy has left Hispanic Republicans in Texas in very different positions. Some, like Monty until Wednesday night, had gotten deeply involved in the campaign in hopes of influencing the nominee on issues like immigration, while others, like veteran ad maker Lionel Sosa, have decided to leave the party altogether this election cycle.

Reporting by Patrick Stiveck/Texas Tribune.