Story highlights

Supporters say Donald Trump speaks for them on immigration

Republican presidential candidate says Mexico is being smart and sending criminals

He scoffs at dozens of protesters, claims one was probably sent by Mexico because he speaks out on trade issues

CNN —  

The father of a high school football star who was killed seven years ago by an undocumented immigrant praised Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Friday for his stance on illegal immigration.

Jamiel Shaw Sr. said controversial statements about Mexicans and other immigrants the billionaire made during his announcement that he was running for office resonated with him.

“He’s speaking for the dead. He’s speaking for my son,” Shaw said. “He’s speaking for the people who can’t speak for themselves that demand that somebody do something.”

Shaw said Trump had gone easy with his language when he talked about Mexican undocumented immigrants being “rapists” and “criminals.”

“I would have said they were murderers. My son was murdered,” he said.

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Shaw’s son was fatally shot in 2008 just outside the family’s Los Angeles home by a gang member from Mexico.

Trump met with Shaw and other relatives of victims of crimes by undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Then flanked by the families, he gave another lengthy news conference, claiming Mexico was sending its criminals to the United States.

“The fact that they are sending criminals and prisoners into our country and there are people stupid enough to put them in jails or let them roam the street, which is even worse, I have to respect (Mexico) for it,” Trump said.

“I don’t know it you know, (former Cuban leader Fidel) Castro, many years ago, opened up his prisons and sent his prisoners to the United States,” he continued. “In a much more sophisticated manner, Mexico is doing the same thing.”

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The victims’ family members spoke emotionally about their children, how they were killed and lamented that they received very little help from political figures and the media.

Sabine Durden’s son Dominic died three years ago when he was riding a motorcycle struck by a car driven by an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala. Durden said Trump is a voice for her and others who think the same way.

“When I heard Mr. Trump, I started screaming. I started hooting and hollering,” Durden said. “Finally, somebody that had the guts to say what millions are thinking but are afraid to say.”

During the hourlong news conference, Trump again insisted that he will win a majority of votes from Latinos in the presidential election next year. He blamed the controversy over his quotes about Mexicans on the media and predicted he would be misquoted again.

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Several dozen people demonstrated outside the hotel where Trump was scheduled to speak after the news conference, not where he was meeting with the parents of the victims. They chanted and carried signs with messages such as “End the Criminalization of our Communities.”

Trump scoffed at the protesters. He said one was well-spoken and was probably was sent by Mexico, because he was speaking out forcefully on what he called bad trade deals.

Trump often sparred with several reporters who asked repeatedly about his prior comments and about the demonstrators. One asked how he could be misquoted if the statement was online for people to see.

“All you have to do is read it. Did you go to college?” Trump asked. “Did you got to college?”

He was asked whether he needed to apologize.

“Should I apologize? It was stated as fact. I know it’s not pleasant, but it was stated as fact,” he said.

Another brought up sanctuary cities, like San Francisco, where Kate Steinle was shot and killed while walking on a pier with her father.

“I think the sanctuary cities are a disgrace,” Trump said.

The brash real estate mogul said he is not against all immigrants.

“I want people to come into the country. Let it be legal,” he said.