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'We Need To Compromise': Leader Of Conservative Latino Group Backs Trump Immigration Proposal

President Trump’s immigration framework calls for eventual citizenship for young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, funding for a border wall and crackdowns on legal and illegal immigration.

Alfonso Aguilar (@amigoaguilar), president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young to discuss why he is backing Trump’s proposal.

Interview Highlights

On President Trump’s generalizations about immigrants and crime

“I don’t love that narrative. I think the majority of immigrants are good, hardworking people who are contributing to our nation and are not involved in criminal activity. However, I understand, at the same time, the frustration from the president and many other Americans. There are undocumented immigrants — it’s a small minority, but there are — involved in criminal activity, and when something like this happens it’s very frustrating. What happens is that the left tends to totally underestimate when undocumented immigrants are involved in criminal activity. But you know what? If we really care about immigrants and about Dreamers, we have to forget about the narrative coming from left and right, and really look at the policy proposals and what can we do from a policy perspective to get something done that’s good for the country and good for the Dreamers.”

On the president’s calls to restrict family-based immigration

“I don’t love cuts in legal immigration. I want to keep legal immigration levels as they are right now, but I recognize we need to compromise. However, having said that, Democrats are trying to say that this is some sort of draconian law that would massively reduce legal immigration. First of all, these legal courts would take at least 15 years — in some visa categories, five decades — to materialize. And even when they fully materialize, our country would still be receiving hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants. This is not going back to the 1920s when we had those very restrictive laws, basically imposed a moratorium on immigration, but that’s what Democrats are trying to say, and it seems to me that they’re fabricating excuses not to engage in a conversation.”

On border security and the prospect of a border wall

“Yesterday I had the pleasure, along with other top Hispanic leaders, to meet with Chief of Staff [John] Kelly and with Secretary of Homeland Security [Kirstjen] Nielsen, and look, first of all, they’re totally committed to the Dreamers. But in terms of the border, they understand that we’re not going to have a 2,000-mile wall. The point that they’re making is within this framework … they’re willing to negotiate. But Democrats are just closing the door. There are no conversations based on the president’s framework.”

On arguments that the president should not use DACA recipients as leverage

“I don’t buy that argument. Because, in the past, Democrats have proposed comprehensive immigration reform that included the undocumented immigrants, but other issues as well. So Republicans are doing the same. Look, I supported the ‘Gang of Eight’ [bipartisan immigration overhaul] bill in 2013. It wasn’t beautiful, I’m a conservative, but I thought we had to be practical. We had to get this ball rolling, this debate going on immigration. We had to work in a bipartisan way, and there were Republicans in the House that didn’t do anything — I criticized them. I think the same thing is happening this time around, but with Democrats. We have the opportunity to provide, not 690,000 people that benefited from DACA, but 1.8 million Dreamers the possibility of a path to legal status and a path to citizenship. That’s a great win for Dreamers.”

On the potential for mass deportation

“The reality is that it’s not happening. I know Democrats are saying that there are campaigns to massively deport people — that is just not happening and we did talk a little bit about that yesterday with Secretary Nielsen. The priority is to go after people with criminal records, and that’s exactly what is happening. But, you know, immigrants, undocumented immigrants are going to school, working, and they realize that a lot of this is noise. They are living their lives, that nobody’s coming after them. They know that there are some people who are undocumented who are involved in criminal activity and those people give the entire community a bad name. But I think at the end they want solutions.”

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