In Berks County, Trump voters split over immigration executive orders

    Nate Capozello

    Nate Capozello

    In his first two weeks in office, President Donald Trump’s issued several sweeping immigration policy changes, sparking protest at airports and cities across the country.

    His executive executive orders have halted visitors from seven Middle Eastern countries, lowered the total number of refugees the US will accept, and requested a plan to fund a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

    While the people marching against these executive order probably didn’t vote for Trump, some Berks County residents who did have thoughts to share on how their president is doing.

    “I’m already disappointed.”

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    Li Ai walks down West Reading’s bustling Penn Ave, a street lined with small boutiques and restaurants, checking on some of his properties. Originally from China, Ai moved to the U.S. 12 years ago. He said he voted for Trump because he, like Trump, is a businessman.

    “I’m already disappointed,” said Ai, who hoped Trump would be focused more on creating jobs. Ai owns a restaurant  and said he hoped more middle-class jobs in Reading would bring him more customers.

    Having benefited from U.S. immigration policies, he said he supports keeping the country open to immigration.

    “Immigrants bring a lot of culture,” said Ai, gesturing at the restaurants dotting the neighborhood, which include an upscale Mexican restaurant, a chinese take-out spot and a creperie.

    “I like the guy.”

    Down the avenue, things are slow after the lunch rush at the West Reading Diner, a retro spot decked out in turquoise and chrome. Twenty-three-year-old server Nate Capozello, calling himself a “Trump guy,” jumps at the opportunity for an interview.

    “I like the guy,” he said of his support for Trump, which remains steady. “He’s not scared…We needed change, he’s an action kind of guy.”

    Capozello said he’s an independent voter and picked Romney in 2012.

    Trump’s immigration policies, he said, are necessary to protect taxpayers and their jobs, although he acknowledged their will be costs to implementing them.

    “Obviously, we’re going to have to pay [for the border wall] but at least it’s going towards something that’s going to be worth it,” said Capozello. Trump promised during the campaing to “make Mexico pay for” a wall at its northern border. Last week, he proposed funding the wall with and tariff on imports from Mexico, which would make goods from Mexico more expensive in the U.S.

    Several other Trump supporters shared reactions to the flurry of executive orders, but asked their names to be attached to them.

    There was the small business owner, getting into his BMW on Penn Ave., who said he was afraid using his name could hurt his business.

    “They’re talking about it being a ban against Muslim countries and it’s not,” he said of the executive order limiting refugees and visitors from seven Middle-Eastern countries. “It’s about a certain number of countries that we have no ability to be sure of who’s coming in.”

    That said, it was “terrible execution” of carrying out the policy, he said.

    For every person who was willing to speak on the record, there were many more who were reluctant.

    There was also the shift worker, in work boots and an American flag head wrap, who said simply, “I think they should build it,” meaning the border wall.

    At Berkshire Mall, in a suburb of Reading, a man in a baseball cap paced nervously while telling his story.

    “My daddy and my grandmother immigrated here after WWII,” he said. “They came from Germany.” He said his family immigrated legally, and that, “for people to come here illegally, and to take jobs, I don’t agree with.”

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