In a contentious yet cordial interview on Spanish language network Telemundo Thursday, President Trump defended his record with immigrants both legal and illegal, his tactics with Mexico and blamed Democrats for being unwilling to cut a deal for Dreamers.
“You’ve also been very tough on immigrants,” Telemundo and NBC News host Jose Diaz-Balart said to Trump on “Noticias Telemundo” in what was, as expected, a largely Latino-centric discussion.
“When you say that you mean illegal immigrants. I’ve been very good to immigrants,” Trump interjected before Diaz Balart clarified that he was speaking about “immigrants who cross the border including those who come asking for asylum.”
Trump interjected moments later touting his rising poll numbers among Hispanics, as Diaz-Balart noted that around “30 percent” of American Latinos support the president. Trump insisted the number was closer to 50 percent, bragging his rising numbers among Latinos were in fact due to his push for border security.
“Because the Hispanics want toughness at the border. They don’t want people coming and taking their jobs. They don’t want criminals to come because they understand the border better than anybody,” Trump said.
Diaz-Balart respectfully disputed the 50 percent number the president cited.
Later in the interview, Diaz-Balart asked point blank, “Do you have something against immigrants?”
“I love immigrants,” Trump responded.
“In fact, I’ll tell you I want people to come in,” the president added, alluding to new jobs that needed to be filled and touting his economic record with Hispanics.
“Hispanics today have the average net wealth, the wealthiest they’ve ever been under Trump, not under Obama because under Obama they were going the wrong way,” Trump said.
The president also disputed the notion that he was responsible for separating children from their parents, blaming the Obama administration and saying he was the one who united families.
The Hispanics want toughness at the border. They don’t want people coming and taking their jobs. They don’t want criminals to come because they understand the border better than anybody.
“I put them together. Just remember that I put them together,” Trump said. “Obama built the cages. I didn’t build them. Obama built the cages… Obama separated.”
Diaz-Balart then asked Trump about the Dreamers and DACA, prompting the president to blame Democrats for refusing to make a deal.
“The Democrats don’t want to make a deal. It’s not an executive order. You know we’re at the Supreme Court right now, we’re going to be before the United States Supreme Court sir and the judges, the justices are going to make a decision,” Trump said.
“I would have made a decision earlier than that. I can’t get Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer to do anything for the Dreamers. They will do nothing for the Dreamers. They don’t care about the Dreamers.”
“I am willing to make a deal,” Trump added.
On the topic of Mexico, Trump said he was happy with Mexico “this week” and made it a point to say that both the U.S. and Mexico benefit from stopping the illegal immigrant migration.
“Mexico didn’t need millions of people pouring through the middle of their country,” Trump said.
“Are you asking Mexico in effect to patrol the southern border to do… the U.S.’s dirty work?” Diaz-Balart asked.
“No, no, no, no, no,” Trump responded. “Not the U.S.’s dirty work, to do Mexico’s work. People shouldn’t be allowed to walk through Mexico into our country. They’re not supposed to be in Mexico either.”
Diaz-Balart ended the interview by quickly naming some of the topics covered and asking the president if he “slept well.”
“I don’t have much time to sleep. Fortunately, I’ve never been a big sleeper, in terms of hours, but I sleep fine. I mean I sleep very good,” Trump said.