Hispanic Colorado Republican Gives Trump’s Immigration Speech A Mixed Review

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Photo: Trump in Phoenix giving immigration speech (AP Photo)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers an immigration policy speech during a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016, in Phoenix.

Photo: Trump in Phoenix giving immigration speech (AP Photo)Donald Trump's highly anticipated speech on immigration got a lukewarm review from the Colorado co-chair of Hispanics for Trump on Thursday.

Colorado businessman Jerry Natividad, a state co-chair of Hispanics for Trump, said he and other Hispanic community leaders from across the nation were hoping to see a "very aggressive, but sensitive immigration reform package."

"We didn't see it" last night, Natividad told Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

Still, Natividad said he supports many -- but not all -- of the stances Trump has taken on immigration.

In the speech, Trump focused on the danger posed by people in the country illegally, and his plans to make it much harder for immigrants who want to come to the U.S. legally to do so. He also reiterated what he wants to do about the approximately 11.3 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally, including about 180,000 from Colorado.

"For those here illegally today, who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and one route only: To return home, and apply for re-entry like everybody else, under the rules of the new legal immigration system that I have outlined," Trump said before a crowd in Phoenix, just hours after he met with Mexico's president.

Natividad told CPR News a few months ago that he didn't care for some of Trump's rhetoric, but would vote for the Republican nominee after drinking a glass of bourbon.

Natividad spoke with Warner about Trump's immigration policy proposals and last night's speech.

Interview highlights:

On where he agrees with Trump's immigration position:

"We absolutely need to control the inflow of who is coming and we need to scrutinize that. Not to penalize, Ryan, but to make sure that we understand that those individuals are coming here are coming here for a couple of different reasons... They are going to bring something of value to this country -- not just escaping maybe a situation where they lived; there has to be some sort of value here."

On where he disagrees with Trump:

"[There] are individuals who have been here for many years, perhaps 15, 20, 25 years. They've raised families. Those families are raising families. They bought homes. Many are probably suited to retire... They've all but assimilated with the exception of that one document that says that they are a citizen. Where I disagree with Donald Trump is, is it reality to suggest that [these people] needs to leave this country and reapply? Is that reality?

"I am not an amnesty person. I believe you must follow the letter of the law... However, in lieu of amnesty, there must be a process that allows these individuals that we were referring to, to at least gain some sort of legal status that gives them more participation in this country that they have fallen in love with."

On Trump's campaign announcement, when he said Mexicans crossing the border "are bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists:"

"I was troubled when he made his announcement in Trump Towers and the message that he extended relative to Mexican immigrants into the country... I actually cringed. But you know the truth of the matter is, is that when you really dissect that comment and you take a look at what is going on in our southern borders today, where there are illegal people that are transporting drugs into this country and these individuals are coming not only with drugs but they're coming with bad values, bad morals and they're actually criminals. And these are the individuals that are that he's speaking about.

"Additional resources have been placed along the southern border. But that has not stopped the drug trafficking that is going on. That has not stopped the things that are going on that that include drugs and the cartels and and the killings that take place here in the United States. I mean we're Mexico's biggest market when it comes to either marijuana or methamphetamine or anything of this nature."

One whether Trump lacks compassion:

"I'll say this about Donald Trump. I believe that he is a very compassionate individual. You know, he employees thousands and thousands of individuals that have helped create a great organization. This is not an organization, and he acknowledges this, that he created by himself. It was a part of a group of employees that helped him build what he has today and he understands that, he values that, and he's very compassionate about that, and he is very sensitive about that. And so I think that he is a very sensitive individual."

On Obama's failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform:

"If you're going to make an impact, and if you're going to make a change, and if you're going to honor a commitment you made to the Hispanic community, honor it. President Obama said this was what he was going to do in the first 100 days, Ryan. And he lied. It didn't happen. And he had the opportunity."

On Trump's plan to build a border wall:

"The wall will hamper and help prohibit easy flow of traffic from one country to the other. Which means that we can tap into other resources to protect the areas that perhaps aren't adaptable to the wall."