Billionaire Donald Trump — the Republican presidential candidate who has claimed credit for launching a divisive debate within the party about illegal immigration — will clear the air with American Hispanics in a public forum next month.
Trump met on Tuesday at his request with Javier Palomarez, the president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in New York, according to the group and confirmed by Trump’s campaign — a meeting the group said resulted in Trump's decision to do a public Q&A with the chamber on Oct. 8. “When it comes to immigration, we've repeatedly found ourselves in disagreement with Mr. Trump. His advisors stressed however, that our disagreement was based on the media's mischaracterization of his stances,” the chamber said in a statement. “We wanted to hear Mr. Trump clearly articulate his views, away from the public spectacle, the media, and the debate floor.”
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce did not provide specifics on what was discussed and Trump's campaign did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The October event would be similar to ones that have held with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of Trump's Republican opponents, and Democratic contenders like Martin O’Malley and Sen. Bernard Sanders.
In his campaign announcement in June, Trump said illegal immigrants from Mexico are "bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists." Since then he has ramped up calls for a wall to be built along the U.S.-Mexican border, the deportation of a large amount of immigrants in the country illegally and an end to birthright citizenship.
The group said it does “not endorse, support, or give credence to Mr. Trump’s public statements,” some of which have offended Latinos. Rather, Palomarez agreed to meet with Trump in order to “ask Donald Trump for clarity on his policies, how he intends to effectively execute them, and who his policies would impact.”
A daily tracking survey conducted by Gallup between July 8-Aug. 23, found that 65% of Hispanics looked at Trump unfavorably and 14 percent had a favorable opinion of him, compared to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the highest-rated Republican candidate, who had a 34 percent favorable rating while 23 percent had an unfavorable opinion.