Alfonso Aguilar, the director of APP’s Latino Partnership and occasional contributor to The Pulse 2016, joined Megyn Kelly to talk about this week’s gathering of Latino activists in Boulder, Colo., and how it will shape the Republican primary. Aguilar called immigration a “gateway issue” for the Latino community and said that while there is a “big difference” between the rhetoric of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, neither is doing what’s necessary to win the Latino vote in 2016. You can watch the full interview and read the transcript below:
MEGYN KELLY: Joining me now is Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership. Plus, Chris Salcedo, he’s the executive director for the Conservative Hispanic Society.
Great to see you both. Thank you very much for being here. So Mr. Trump is going to be under the microscope as I understand it, along with Ted Cruz. And the question is, what, if any, issues do you have with these two gentlemen. Start with you, Alfonso.
ALFONSO AGUILAR, AMERICAN PRINCIPLES PROJECT: Well, I think we’re going to look at all of the candidates. We want to look at the entire GOP field and see what they’re talking about in not only terms of immigration but all the issues. For Hispanics, immigration is an important issue. It’s not the number one issue. It’s a significant issue. A gateway issue to get into the Latino community. If a republican candidate doesn’t deal with immigration in a constructive way —
KELLY: OK. But is it an open minded thing? I mean, is there anything, any way you can be persuaded on Trump or Cruz who are hard-liners on immigration, but that is very appealing to many within the GOP fields, who are open minded?
AGUILAR: Well, I mean, there’s a big difference between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. I think with Donald Trump, we’re going to have an open discussion. But I think we have a hard time supporting a guy who says that the majority of Mexicans, undocumented immigrants are criminals and rapists who’s calling for deporting all undocumented immigrants. That kind of talk is very offensive to Hispanic voters. So —
KELLY: He didn’t say the majority. He did not say the majority. He said, they’re not sending their best people. He said, they’re not sending their best people and some are rapists —
AGUILAR: No. No. But then he said —
KELLY: — and I’m sure some are very good people.
AGUILAR: And some are some good people. I mean, that kind of language, regardless of how the way you see it, is offensive to Latinos. And now to say that now we’re going to deport every single undocumented immigrant, you know, that’s impossible to do.
KELLY: I understood.
AGUILAR: It’s offensive to Latinos.
KELLY: Now, let me ask you Chris, though —
CHRIS SALCEDO, CONSERVATIVE HISPANIC SOCIETY: Yes.
KELLY: Because you are a conservative Latino, and Trump supporter. And were you invited to this confab?
SALCEDO: No, we weren’t. As a matter of fact, when this announcement came down, and three things Megyn that stood out for me when the announcement came down. In the pages of The Washington Post, the first question that popped into my mind, why would a conservative Latino or a GOP Latino want to announce a confab like this in the pages of a member of the media in good standing with the Brian Williams press? Why not go to Fox News or why not go to the blazer, a myriad of other outlets to make the announcement where conservatives and GOPs are not treated like pariahs.
KELLY: But Alfonso, I mean, these are Republicans. Now, Alfonso, this is not —
SALCEDO: If Cruz wants to join us, he’s welcome. I frankly, I —
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
KELLY: But wait, wait, wait, let me just set the record straight. Alfonso, the group — these are Republicans, right? Is this Democrats too?
AGUILAR: This is a group of the top Latino conservative and republican leaders in the nation.
KELLY: Okay. So, Chris, it isn’t a republican group. They’re trying to figure out without which Republican to put their support behind. Go ahead, Chris.
SALCEDO: Well, to that point, the conservative Hispanic society which on the executive director didn’t get a heads up that this was going on.
KELLY: How many are in your group?
SALCEDO: We have members nationwide, we’re getting so popular on the website. It’s hard to keep track on the —
KELLY: I know — but if it’s like four, then you don’t get an invitation.
AGUILAR: I worked for American Principles Project —
SALCEDO: Well, hold on. America first Latinos didn’t get a heads up. The remembrance project didn’t get a heads up on all of these. So, I think what’s going on here Megyn is these folks are meeting there in Colorado, not to formulate an opinion but to justify an opinion. And they don’t want —
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
KELLY: All right. Let me go back to Alfonso a bit. Alfonso, let me ask you this. Alfonso, let me ask you this. Because one of the mean reasons Mitt Romney lost according to the pundits is he did not do better with minority communities. And in fact, if the next GOP nominee gets the same percentage that Romney got with Whites, they would have to almost double their vote with minorities in particular to Hispanic community if they wanted them to win the presidency. Do you see any candidate on the GOP side that you think could do that?
AGUILAR: Oh, absolutely. Many including Governor Bush, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina. They are good and constructive on the issue of immigration. Donald Trump is not. And just look at the polling when it comes to Hispanic voters and the majority will tell you, they don’t like Trump.
SALCEDO: You look at the polling nationwide. You look at the polling nationwide.
SALCEDO: Donald Trump’s numbers are high and resonating on this issue for a reason, because —
KELLY: That’s true. But we’re talking about the Hispanic vote. That’s true.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
AGUILAR: You can shout all you want, but you’re not addressing the question.
KELLY: I got to go.
SALCEDO: The question is this — the question is this. Americans, including a lot of people in the Latino community, are tired of hearing, hey, there’s just nothing that can be done about all of this illegal activity.
KELLY: I got it, I got it, I got it, I got it. But obviously the polls have shown that the language used has been an issue. And we’ll have to leave it at that for now. Great to see you both.
SALCEDO: Bye, Megyn.
Nick Arnold is a researcher for the American Principles Project.