MESA, AZ - DECEMBER 16: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guests gathered during a campaign event at the International Air Response facility on December 16, 2015 in Mesa, Arizona. Trump is in Arizona the day after the Republican Presidential Debate hosted by CNN in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo : Ralph Freso / Stringer)
At an Oct. 9, 2015 rally in Las Vegas, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump did what he's wont to do on the campaign trail. He stressed securing the U.S.-Mexico border, denounced comprehensive immigration reform, and proclaimed he would win the Latino vote, regardless.
Courting a state with about 800,000 Latinos - 27.8 percent of the population - Trump expected his share of hecklers. Like those outside the campaign event who raised signs condemning his call to deport the "rapists" and "criminals" illegally living in the country; a reference to incendiary comments Trump made in announcing his candidacy last spring.
It is part of the reason 82 percent of Hispanics view Trump unfavorably, according to a September Washington Post/ ABC News poll. Other national polls have revealed similar sentiment.
But there are Latinos who don't see Trump in the same light. They, like a majority of Iowa caucus-goers, believe he is best equipped to handle matters of national security and the economy. Where some potential Hispanic voters see his plan of deporting 11.3 million undocumented immigrants as implausible, Trump supporters see it as a way of rectifying the U.S. citizenship process to favor those who've paid their dues, cleared a background check, and waited their turn.
During his speech, Trump pulled a Colombian immigrant onstage. Later identified as Myriam Witcher by the Las Vegas Sun, the woman beamed as she opened her arms towards the audience.
"I'm Hispanic, and I vote for Mr. Trump. We vote for Mr. Trump," she said. "We love you, we love you, all the way to the White House."
Forty million Latinos will be eligible to vote by the year 2030, according to Pew Research Center projections released after the 2012 presidential election. This includes some 17.6 million young adults not old enough to vote yet. As the population grows, so does each individual voter's ability to make an informed decision.
Latinos aren't unwavering Democrats anymore. They may have indelible beliefs about social issues, or a commitment to one single political party.
A David Binder Research and Moore Information survey released in December discredited the notion that all Latinos lean to the left. Researchers found 55 percent of potential voters are persuadable and undecided on who would win their vote.
"I've seen the turn this country has taken and it saddens me to see how our laws are being ignored, from our own government to the people that have come here illegally either by crossing our borders or overstaying their visas," said Carmen Morales, a U.S.-born citizen of Puerto Rican descent who co-created the "Latinos Who Support Donald Trump" Facebook page.
She continued, "This is a country of laws, and anyone who comes here should assimilate and respect the law, no matter what language they may speak or country they come from."
Morales, who also a member of The Remembrance Project, said she and Rosanna Pulido created the 1,360 member group because they believe Trump is misrepresented. They say more potential voters don't support the real estate mogul because he is painted as anti-Latino by the Spanish media.
Similar pages have been set up. "Latinos Support Trump" has over 450 likes; "Latinos for Donald Trump" has 1,194; and "Latinos/Hispanics for Donald Trump" carries over 9,550.
In 2012, Mitt Romney received 23 percent of the Latino vote; nearly half - 52 percent - came from Mexican-Americans while 14 percent came from Puerto Ricans. The last Republican to win the demographic was George W. Bush in 2004, with 44 percent.
For Trump to win the 2016 general election, he'll need to match Bush's numbers. He'll need to convince a record number of Hispanics that voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012 of his economic and foreign policies.
Most of all, he'll have to assuage fears that a Trump presidency isn't bad for Latinos.
"I don't hear any empirical evidence that that is going to happen," campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told Politico, responding to the idea that more Hispanic voters could hurt Trump's campaign. "The more people that take part in the election process, the better, and I think it's clear that Mr. Trump has invigorated people who aren't traditionally participating in the process."
Lewandowski added, "Poll after poll continue to show that Hispanics are supporting Mr. Trump at a disproportionate rate to any of the other candidates."
Republicans need the Latino vote if they're to beat projected Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Hardline GOPers may side with Trump, but moderate conservatives are well aware that his steadfast game plan and refusal to back down from anything deemed controversial may cost the party the election.
Trump has offended Latinos and Muslims, he's cut ties with Univision, he kicked well-known Hispanic journalist Jorge Ramos out of a press conference. Still, Trump still has a committed group of Latino supporters ready cast their ballot.
"Latinos who support Trump need a voice," Morales said. "I know so many who agree with Trump that you would be surprised."