Alicia Machado, who won Donald Trump’s Miss Universe pageant in 1996, is just days or weeks away from becoming a U.S. citizen. The former Venezuelan beauty queen says the presumptive Republican nominee should not expect her vote this fall.
Machado alleged last month that Trump insulted her looks and language skills after she won the pageant, calling her “Miss Piggy” after she gained weight and “Miss Housekeeping” because she was not fully fluent in English.
On Wednesday, she joined two pro-immigrant advocacy groups in Arlington to encourage other Latinos to join her in registering to vote and casting their ballots for Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
“I hope my testimonial will help everyone to make a good decision in November,” Machado said.
The event was organized by People for the American Way and Casa in Action, which are launching a Spanish-language anti-Trump ad in eight states Thursday.
The ad describes “Donald Trump’s Year of Hate” since he announced his presidential campaign on June 16, 2015, and reviews some of his more controversial statements about immigrants: that some Mexican immigrants are criminals and “rapists,” that undocumented immigrants should be deported en masse, and that a U.S.-born judge has treated Trump unfairly because of the judge’s Mexican heritage.
It will air on television in Virginia and Nevada and on digital outlets in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In Virginia, expected to be a key battleground state, Latinos make up 8.7 percent of the population and 4.6 percent of eligible voters, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Nationwide, Latinos account for 17 percent of the population but only about 11 percent of eligible voters, according to a 2014 study by Pew.
“In a tight election, the Latino community can decide who wins,” J. Walter Tejada, a former Arlington County Board member and the chairman of the Virginia Latino Advisory Commission, said at the news conference. “To Mr. Trump, we want to declare a message that hate will not win.”
Del. Alfonso H. Lopez (D-Arlington), the first Latino elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates, added “A career built on boorish behavior, xenophobia and division is not worthy of Virginia or the United States.”
At the news conference, a coalition of speakers whose families came from Mexico, Venezuela and El Salvador urged Latinos to unite against Trump.
“During his journey, he has attacked everyone: Muslims, women, disabled people and immigrants,” said Dolores Huerta, 86, who is co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
“This person is very dangerous to the United States of America,” Huerta said. “I’ve never seen any candidate for president who has so overtly attacked people with such gusto . . . and a portion of the people who follow him are really unstable.”
She made a connection between Trump’s statements about undocumented immigrants and Latinos and the massacre of 49 people — including many gay Latinos — at an Orlando nightclub Sunday morning. Trump’s rhetoric, she speculated, could inflame other acts of violence.
According to a poll released Wednesday by the Center for American Progress, the top concern of both Latinas and African American women in the United States remains economic security for their families. Among Latinas, 21 percent of those queried said immigration and deportation worries were the second-most important concern.
Machado, who has two daughters and works as an actress, said she loves the United States but still remembers how insulted she felt 20 years ago when, she says, Trump mocked her appearance and background.
Trump has confirmed pressing Machado to lose weight, and according to Business Insider, he called her “an eating machine” in an interview with radio personality Howard Stern.
Referring to the “Miss Housekeeping” moniker, Machado said, “That’s how he called me in front of his friends, to make fun of me.”
“Then, I thought it was an insult,” she said. “Now, I think it’s an honor” because of the hard work of immigrant housekeepers and nannies.
“Everybody in America needs to open their eyes,” Machado said. “We don’t need more divisions in this country.”