Security guards remove a protester from a Donald Trump rally on May 25 in Anaheim, Calif. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND -- A group of conservative Latino leaders who once vowed to never support Donald Trump is now planning to endorse him, vote for him and urge other Hispanics to do so, too.

The group of current and former state party leaders, conservative activists and association bosses plans to release a letter Monday that explains that despite previous opposition and concern about Trump's rhetoric and policy positions, the organization thinks he would be a stronger, more uniting president than Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"We are not enamored with Donald Trump’s bombastic rhetoric and personality. But at least we know that Donald Trump won’t divide the country and fuel the flames of racial confrontation by accusing the police and the entire criminal justice system of being racist," the group wrote. "We also know that Trump can better address the terrorist threat we face because, contrary to Clinton, he is willing to acknowledge and address its root cause: radical Islamic fundamentalism. And we also know that Trump will reverse the current over-regulation and excessive taxation of business which stifles economic growth and prevents the creation of well paid jobs."

This group ultimately has little sway with the vast majority of Latino voters. But its moves signal that it is willing to put party and ideology above members' backgrounds to help Trump defeat Clinton in November just as the GOP convenes here to do the same.

For months, Hispanic Republicans and conservatives have been increasingly anguished as Trump continued attacking prominent Latinos and makes little effort to win their support.

He has lashed out at Susana Martinez of New Mexico, the nation’s only female Hispanic governor, and has said that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in Indiana and is hearing a fraud case against him, is a “Mexican” who is biased because of Trump’s immigration policies. He also has singled out Hispanic journalists for public ridicule.

The message of support comes just after fresh polling by Univision and Telemundo showed record-low levels of support for Trump and the Republican Party. Trump had an 11 percent net positive rating, according to the polling by Telemundo, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. In the Univision survey, 77 percent of Hispanics had an unfavorable opinion of the presumed GOP nominee. Opposition to his call for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border stands at 79 percent.

Eager to shore up at least some of its losses, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said Sunday that the candidate plans to make overtures to minority voters after the GOP convention. He said that African Americans should find favor with Trump's economic message.

"We're going to campaign through all segments of society," Manafort told The Washington Post on Sunday, while declining to share more specifics.

The co-signers of the letter set for release Monday said they knew nothing about Trump's plans to woo Hispanics and blacks.

The lead author is Alfonso Aguilar, head of the Latino Partnership, who last fall organized several meetings of these same leaders in a fruitless attempt to block Trump from winning the GOP nomination. At the time, Aguilar said the group was especially angered by Trump's decision to call Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists. The organization also didn't agree with Trump's more aggressive stance on border security.

But circumstances have shifted, Aguilar said, especially recent episodes of terrorism and mass violence in Orlando and Dallas, plus the FBI's decision not to indict Clinton in connection with her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

"We felt that as offensive as Trump had been, Hillary would be much worse," he said.

Aguilar also said that Clinton has a tendency to "pander disgustingly" to Hispanics, citing her recent vow to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill during the first 100 days of her presidency.

"That's exactly what Obama promised and didn't deliver," he said. "Making the same type of promise -- it's an insult to our intelligence."

Here's the full letter set for release Monday and its co-signers as of Sunday evening:

In the past weeks and months, many Americans have vividly seen and experienced the tough challenges facing the nation, including terrorist threats and attacks at home, unprecedented divisiveness and racial tension among our citizens, and a slow-growing economy that cannot create good paying jobs. Furthermore, their confidence in our leadership has eroded as they watch politicians use their positions for personal benefit, putting our national security at risk in the process, with the belief that they are above the law.

Like most, these events have given us pause and led us to see in a new light how decisive the next election will be for the future of our country.

During the primary, we took an active stance opposing the candidacy of Donald Trump.  We were offended by some of his statements and views on immigration. We said in no uncertain terms that if he became the GOP nominee, we would not support him, campaign for him, or vote for him.

However, the magnitude and the frequency of the recent episodes of violence and terror, as well as the devastating statements from FBI Director James Comey regarding Hillary Clinton’s gross negligence in the handling of her official communications as Secretary of State, have led us to reconsider our position. We see now that we cannot remain silent as our great Republic, which Abraham Lincoln called "the last best hope of earth”, appears to be coming apart at the seams.

We’re convinced that if we allow Hillary Clinton to become president, the liberal policies of the last eight years of big government and social reengineering, which have led to the societal and economic malaise in which we now find ourselves, will be continued and perpetuated.

Furthermore, Clinton’s shady use of an unsecured private server to manage official communications, which included top secret and classified material, and continued lies to cover it up, perhaps even committing perjury before a House of Representatives panel, demonstrate that she does not have the character and ethical standards to be president.

We have, therefore, decided not only to vote for Donald Trump, but to actively campaign for his candidacy. Too much is at stake for America for us to remain neutral on the sidelines.

We are not enamored with Donald Trump’s bombastic rhetoric and personality. But at least we know that Donald Trump won’t divide the country and fuel the flames of racial confrontation by accusing the police and the entire criminal justice system of being racist.  We also know that Trump can better address the terrorist threat we face because, contrary to Clinton, he is willing to acknowledge and address its root cause: radical Islamic fundamentalism. And we also know that Trump will reverse the current overregulation and excessive taxation of business which stifles economic growth and prevents the creation of well paid jobs.

We realize that much of the uproar over Trump within the Latino community has been over his comments and proposals on immigration. Democrats have certainly used it to pander to our community.  But the reality is that Clinton cannot be trusted on immigration. She now portrays herself as a champion of immigrant rights, yet back in 2007 she voted for a poison pill amendment to kill immigration reform. Just two years ago, she called for the expedited removal of unaccompanied minors coming from Central America.

Let’s face it: Clinton doesn’t want a solution to immigration. Instead, she wants an issue to use for political gain to carry the favor of Latino voters. Like Obama, who promised immigration reform the first year of his term and then didn’t deliver, if elected, Clinton will not do anything to work in a bipartisan way to pass legislation to fix our dysfunctional immigration system.

Ironically, even on immigration, we may fare better with Trump.  At the end of the day, he is practical and a deal-maker. He said recently that he doesn’t want to deport every single undocumented immigrant, and that he only called for the removal of those with criminal records.

Our country and our community cannot afford to have someone like Hillary Clinton in the White House at this crucial time in our history. We can, however, reverse the course of decline that America has been placed on by President Obama, a course which Clinton would undoubtedly follow.

We can fix America. We can turn things around. But the way to do that — the only way — is to vote for Donald Trump in November.

Jerry Natividad
Colorado Republican Leader

Massey Villarreal
Former President
U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and National Republican Hispanic Assembly

Jacob Monty
Latino Jewish Alliance

Anthony Dean Aragon
Vice Mayor
Liberal, Kansas

Hugo Chavez-Rey
Chairman
Colorado Hispanic Republicans

Michael T. Parra
Vice Chair
Colorado Hispanic Republicans

George Rivera
Pueblo County GOP Chair and former Colorado State Senator

Alfonso Aguilar
Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles

Vera Ortegon
Colorado Republican National Committeewoman

Vinicio Madrigal
Louisiana Hispanic Political Action Coalition

Maria del Carmen Guzman-Weese
Chairman
GOP Colorado House District 35

Clara Rivas-Oxley
Colorado Republican Leader

Solomon Martinez
Colorado Republican Leader

Ada Diaz-Kirby
Colorado Republican Leader

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In the age of Trump, Latino Republicans are anguished over what to do

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