Couple divided over Trump united in saving illegal immigrants in desert

Norma Galeana
·2 min read
John Hunter, a supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, and his wife Laura, who doesn't support Trump, set up water stations for people illegally crossing the US-Mexico border
John Hunter, a supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, and his wife Laura, who doesn't support Trump, set up water stations for people illegally crossing the US-Mexico border

By Norma Galeana

(Reuters) - A die-hard Trump supporter and his wife, who despises the U.S. president, are united in a rare mission.

For years, John and Laura Hunter have set up water stations for people illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, saving them from fatal heat in the Anza-Borrego desert in California.

John, 65, is a Republican who founded the nonprofit group Water Stations 21 years ago when a record number of migrants were dying of dehydration and heat exhaustion.

"I was born here. I was lucky to be born here in the States where we had great freedom, great opportunities," said the physicist. "But the guys down south from here don't have the same opportunities just because their system is different. So, if I was one of them, I'd be coming north, too."

His wife Laura, born in Mexico, joined Water Station as a volunteer and they tied the knot years later.

"She didn't tell me she was a Democrat when I married her. Once again, I was tricked," John joked. "When I married her, we weren't talking about politics. All we did was come out here and put out water."

The marriage has been tested more than ever since Donald Trump won the 2016 U.S. election campaigning against illegal immigration.

"I think this has created a little bit of friction between us because I don't like Trump," said Laura, 73. "I don't like the way he's demonizing people, especially poor people for coming from different parts of the world."

John did not vote for Trump in 2016 out of respect for Laura, but likes that the former reality TV star is not a typical politician.

"It's refreshing to find a guy who is himself, even if he's a jerk," he said.

Water Stations is supported by hundreds of volunteers and donors who put politics aside to follow their heart.

"Everybody's entitled to their own opinion," Laura said. "But all of us have the same purpose, the same goal, to help reduce the heat-related deaths in this area."

(Reporting by Norma Galeana; Writing by Richard Chang; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)