A senior staffer at the Republican National Committee (RNC) told Breitbart News Saturday GOP presidential candidate Donald J. Trump did not say or suggest that he was open to granting any legal status–amnesty–to any illegal aliens in the United States at his campaign’s National Hispanic Advisory Council meeting as reported in BuzzFeed and Univision.
“Mr. Trump did not say he was in favor of legalization,” said Helen Aguirre-Ferre, who joined the RNC staff to help coordinate outreach to the Hispanic community and act as the GOP Hispanic communications director. Aguirre-Ferre told Breitbart News that she is Hispanic, but not a member of the advisory council. Her role was to help arrange the meeting and attend on behalf of the RNC.
Anyone at the meeting, held at Trump Tower, who got the impression that Trump had changed his position on foreigners in the United States illegally misinterpreted his remarks, she said.
“What Mr. Trump said was very clear,” she said. “Some folks talked about legalization, not citizenship, for the undocumented, Mr. Trump did not say he was in favor of legalization. Some folks may have felt that he was open to it–and he gave zero indication of that.”
Aguirre-Ferre’s debunking of the reports in both BuzzFeed and Univision is an embarrassment to both progressive outlets, and echoes what the Trump campaign has said.
“Mr. Trump said nothing today that he hasn’t said many times before, including in his convention speech — enforce our immigration laws, uphold the Constitution and be fair and humane while putting American workers first,” Steven Cheung, Trump’s rapid response director, told Breitbart News late Saturday night. “Today’s conversation was productive and enlightening, and Mr. Trump looks forward to speaking with these leaders again soon and often.”
The Trump campaign’s and RNC’s swift dismissal of the inaccurate reports that he would back amnesty for illegal aliens comes after BuzzFeed and Univision falsely reported that Trump told Hispanic activists he would.
“Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump plans to present an immigration plan in Colorado Thursday that will include legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants, according to three people present at a meeting the candidate attended Saturday with Hispanic leaders at Trump Tower in New York,” Univision, a devoutly pro-amnesty outlet opposed to the candidacy of Trump, reported.
Jacob Monty, a Texas immigration lawyer who was at the meeting, told Univision that Trump was now opposed to deporting the illegal aliens in America.
“I really liked that Trump acknowledged that there is a big problem with the 11 million [undocumented] people who are here, and that deporting them is neither possible nor humane,” Monty said.
“The candidate also said he would announce a way to give them [legal] status that wouldn’t be citizenship but would allow them to be here without fear of deportation,” Monty added in his quote to Univision.
Monty gave a similar quote to BuzzFeed: “He said people who are here is the toughest part of the immigration debate, that it must be something that respects border security but deals with this in a humane and efficient manner.”
While the BuzzFeed and Univision stories got it wrong, Breitbart News actually spoke with many of the main players in the room and senior campaign staffers. At least four campaign sources with direct knowledge of Trump’s plans—including several who were in the room at this meeting—directly and independently confirmed to Breitbart News that Trump has no such plans to change anything in his immigration policy. They also all confirmed that Trump said nothing in this meeting to indicate that he would, but that he only restated his already public policy positions.
Aguirre-Ferre said, too, that Trump did tell his Hispanic advisors the case for legalization was interesting, but he wanted to be fair to the people who followed the rules and are waiting for years to have a legal entry into the country. The New York City developer told the members of his National Hispanic Advisory Council (NHAC) that he had to come to learn from them as he formulates the details of his immigration policy.
“I think people just got excited because they genuinely want him to win and really want him to win with the Hispanic community,” Aguirre-Ferre said. “They really, really do.”
Aguirre-Ferre said the meeting itself was a success and exactly the quality of meeting a campaign would want to have.
“I left the meeting very pleased for the group,” she said. Members of the advisory council traveled to Manhattan from 12 states, including faith leaders representing hundreds of thousands of Hispanic evangelicals nationwide.
“I think it was productive because Mr. Trump was very engaging and open. He wanted to hear what everybody wanted to say and he showed a real human interest in that,” she said.
The Miami native said the meeting was positive with people comfortable sharing opinions and asking the candidate questions with the candidate asking a good amount of his own questions in return.
“Frankly, for those, who had never met him before that was very flattering that he wanted to hear from them as much as members of the group wanted to hear from him,” she said.
“If there was one thing that we really learned from this process, this electoral cycle, is that so many people are so angry because they are ignored–all traditional politicians want is their vote, but they don’t care about their don’t care about their constituencies afterwards,” she said. “The desire to look for a candidate, who is not a part of the professional political pool is what draws people to Mr. Trump.”
Aguirre-Ferre is in a bit of an awkward position as the RNC’s Hispanic communication director given her previous opposition to Trump’s candidacy for president–and her work in favor of amnesty in the past. A former staffer for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Aguirre-Ferre has long advocated for amnesty for illegal aliens. In fact, she even wrote an op-ed in the Miami Herald in 2015 going so far as to claim granting amnesty to illegal aliens would somehow benefit the U.S. economy. Aguirre-Ferre wrote in that Miami Herald piece that all the illegal aliens in America should be granted amnesty—and that if they aren’t, it would be “an affront to the rule of law.”
“Immigration laws must be amended, and the status of those who are here illegally must be addressed,”Aguirre-Ferre wrote. “Providing a mechanism that will allow eligible undocumented immigrants to get on the right side of the law will be a boon for the American economy and will help unite the country. Doing nothing keeps unenforceable policies in place, which is an affront to the rule of law.”
Aguirre-Ferre also was originally quoted in the inaccurate piece from Univision, not originally debunking the false claims about Trump and legalization.
“Trump was very categorical in saying that he’s seeking a fair immigration reform,”Aguirre-Ferre said about the meeting, as quoted by Univision. “He wants to listen to everyone and announce his conclusions in the coming days.”
Now that it’s clear all those original reports were inaccurate, Trump and his team plan to move on with efforts to heavily focus on Trump’s America First immigration plan next week.
Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement the meeting was a great step towards increasing Hispanic communities and individuals in the campaign.
“The RNC joins the Trump campaign in recognizing the diverse group of Hispanic leaders who are generously giving of their time and talent to be a part of the National Hispanic Advisory Council for Trump,” he said. “Their participation is just one component of our expansive effort to engage the Hispanic community, and their contributions will help us compete for every vote in every community all the way through Election Day.”
After the meeting with Trump, the NHAC discussed strategies for ensuring the Hispanic community understands developer’s proposals for economic policies and plans to help the middle class and combat terrorism.
Breitbart News’ Matthew Boyle contributed reporting to this story.