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Remarks at a Roundtable Discussion With Hispanic Pastors on Border Security and an Exchange With Reporters

January 25, 2019

The President. Well, thank you very much. We have some of the most respected—and powerful, frankly—they have tremendous congregations of pastors and ministers anywhere in this country. And they've been talking to me for a long period of time. And you probably saw, we went up 19 percent—I saw that just a little while—with the Hispanic population. Part of it is the jobs, because they're doing record-setting jobs right now. But part of it is what we talk about, the wall and security.

And these are just tremendous people. Many have been my friends for a long period of time. And I thought we'd go around the table and say a few words. And that would be great. We'll start with—Pastor, please.

Pastor Ramiro A. Peña of Christ the King Baptist Church in Waco, TX. Sure. Mr. President, thank you for having us here today. I have a letter to present to you from 150 Hispanic evangelical leaders, simply saying an expression of gratitude for your good-faith efforts to work with Democrats and try to get everyone to the table to get things moving again.

You've done a very good job and been the leader we need you to be in extending a hand to them to come to the table. And we want to say thank you for doing that, and we want to say thank you for doing everything you can to get aid, in a humanitarian way, for this crisis where it's needed most, securing our borders, and providing for law enforcement and the Border Patrol everything they need, all the tools and resources that are needed.

One thing you have not done, Mr. President, is manufacture a humanitarian crisis. It's real. And although many people began to declare repeatedly this is a manufactured crisis, being a pastor from Texas, I can tell you the human suffering that's been going on for many decades has hit a fever pitch. And I'm grateful that you have shown leadership to recognize it, to call it out, and to actually do something about it.

So thank you, sir, for doing that.

The President. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Please.

Pastor Norma Urrabazo of International Church of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV. Mr. President, I'm Norma from the International Church of Las Vegas. I'm a pastor there in the—not only in the large community, but in the Latina community.

And about a week ago, I heard a briefing that you were doing where you were talking about border security and also the humanitarian crisis. And I literally just—as I was listening to you share that, I pulled over to the side, and I just started praying. And I was like, do the American people hear the statistics that the President is saying? Do the American people know what our reality is?

So in that moment, I feel like I had, like, a truth encounter with what you were saying, and I started praying, "Lord, let America have this truth encounter." I am an immigrant from Mexico and also daughter of an immigrant from Mexico, and I just wanted you to know that you have not only my support, but you have the support of our community. Yes, there's things that we need to resolve. I feel like you're doing an amazing job resolving not only the need for security, but this crisis that has been going on for many, many years with the security of our Nation and also with immigration issues that have been going on for so many years.

So I just wanted to thank you——

The President. Thank you.

Pastor Norma Urrabazo. ——and wanted you to know that you have our support.

The President. We'll get it done.

Pastor Norma Urrabazo. Absolutely.

The President. We'll get it done.

Pastor Guillermo Maldonado of King Jesus International Ministry in Miami, FL. I'm Pastor Guillermo Maldonado from King Jesus Ministry in Miami. And we're here to support you, Mr. President. You know, there's misconception in the public, thinking that Spanish community are—is for illegal immigration. There's a misconception also that we want open borders.

And dealing with people every single day, I see that our community support what you're doing. We don't want open borders. I've been in 70 countries, preaching the Gospel, and every country has laws and order. And every country we go, America has been so gracious, opening the doors and opening the doors for every person that comes.

And that misconception that Spanish people want open borders, they want no laws, that's not true. We're here to support you, and what you're doing is great. The lowest unemployment for Spanish people—4 percent—that's incredible.

The President. Yes. In history. That's in history.

Pastor Maldonado. And that's why you have seen an increase of your support, the support of the Spanish people to you.

So we greatly appreciate it.

The President. Thank you, Pastor.

Pastor Maldonado. We pray for you. And we want you to know you can count with our support.

The President. Thank you, Pastor. I appreciate it. Thank you.


Pastor Pasqual Urrabazo of International Church of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV. Mr. President Trump, thank you so much for all you're doing for America. I'm Pastor Pasqual from the International Church of Las Vegas. And I support wholly what you're doing here—what you're doing for America, concerning the crisis there at the border. I'm involved a lot with human trafficking and gang violence with the police department in Las Vegas, and we know there's a crisis. And we want to tell you thank you for everything that you're doing, and we support all that you're doing.

The President. And the gangs comes from south of the border, right?

Pastor Pasqual Urrabazo. Yes. Gang—— The President. Almost everybody?

Pastor Pasqual Urrabazo. Yes.

The President. Almost all of them?

Pastor Pasqual Urrabazo. Most of them that come to Las Vegas, they're trying to fit in somewhere, work things out, and they can't get anything going, so they start joining groups of—the gangs. And that's how that happens.

And we—I work alongside the police department. We have our churches that are connected to the police department in different city—in different areas of the city. And when there's a crime or violence, we go out with them, and we hit the ground with the police department there to restore order back in certain areas.

The President. Right. Great job you do. Fantastic job.


Pastor Marilyn Rivera of La Puerta Life Center in North Miami, FL. Hi. I am Pastor Marilyn Rivera, and I am the first lady president of the Hispanic Pastors Association in South Florida. And I just want to tell you that we pray for you, we are behind you, and we want safe borders.

The President. Thank you.

Pastor Rivera. And where we're willing to sit with you for immigration reform, whatever, let's work together.

The President. Good. Well, thank you. And you've been fantastic.

Mike. Mike Pence.

Vice President Michael R. Pence. Just, it's an honor to welcome these wonderful Hispanic pastors here. We're grateful for their ministries, and we're grateful for your prayers. And the support that you have shown the President; record unemployment for Hispanic Americans, African Americans across the country; and the leadership that you've expressed support for the President has brought to our Nation's engagement in this hemisphere means a great deal to all of us.

But thank you all for being here.

The President. And a big part of it is, the economy is so strong that people are—they're rushing our borders.

Yes, please.

Copastor Becky Keenan of Gulf Meadows Church in Houston, TX. Well, thank you for a strong economy, but also you're our Commander in Chief, and part of these issues is the safety of our country. Our country changed after 9/11, and we're dealing with issues that we didn't have to perhaps deal with in the past.

But I want to specifically say that, as a woman and a pastor, I deal with victims of human trafficking, which is at an alltime high. And a strong America—and when it comes to security and defending women and children, and even some men are trafficked as well, against their will. The horrific violence and even death of thousands of people across our border is something that no one has addressed. And I'm very grateful for this. And I'm also grateful that we're here at the table and that we have this dialogue, that you're open to it. I thank you for that. And I know you have a compassion for women, for children, for families. So, for that, I am very grateful and very hopeful of the future, Mr. President.

The President. Good. We're going to have a great future.

Pastor Keenan. Yes, sir.

The President. Thank you very much.

Secretary Nielsen.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen. I just want to thank everyone for being here. I want to thank you all for your leadership and your compassion for taking such good care of your communities and for working with the Department of Homeland Security. We'd love to continue to strengthen our partnership, to learn from you, to understand what's happening within our communities so that we can, together, make them safer under the President's leadership. So thank you for being here. It's very important. Thank you.

The President. She's got a very easy job. [Laughter]


Reverend Mario Sandoval of Maranatha Baptist Church in Waco, TX. Hello. Mr. President, thank you for having me here. My name is Mario Sandoval. I'm a pastor in Waco, Texas, a Hispanic community. And we—there, where I'm at, we suffer, we see what the people actually go through. And we're not for open borders. We're for secure borders, because we know that it's going to bring resolution to a lot of the things that people go through. And so we're here to support you for that.

The President. Thank you, Reverend. Appreciate it.


Pastor Mario Bramnick of New Wine Ministries Church in Cooper City, FL. Thank you very much. My name is Mario Bramnick, a pastor with New Wine Ministries and president of the Latino Coalition for Israel. We're really amazed by your leadership. What President Trump promises, President Trump delivered—from the movement of the Embassy to Jerusalem, to the appointments of incredible Supreme Court Justices, and now to what you're doing for border security.

As Hispanics with the soar in the poll numbers, you can see that we do want strong border security that you stand for. And from the times we've had the honor to meet you, I know you have a compassion for the Hispanic people. And it's true, from your heart, all the times that we were able to be with you, and as evidenced by the historic unemployment rate, as evidenced by your willingness to help with DACA and TPS relief. And we're with you, we're praying for you, and it's an honor to be here with you.

The President. Thank you very much, Pastor. Beautifully said.


Eres America, LLC, President Lourdes R. Aguirre. Mr. President, as president of Eres America, my task is to bring leadership of the Nation as we have sitting here today. I work with every organization and denominations that are in the leadership with the Hispanics. One of the things that I see and resonates today is the fact that there's a great misconception. The media gives a major misconception of the Hispanic community and the support that we have for you. I can emphatically say your values stand aligned to the Hispanic community. And that is that—what you have seen in the polls is that they have seen, no matter what the media says, they see that your actions speak aligned to their hearts' desire.

And so they've got it all wrong. They're making my task more interesting, yet the message is getting to our Hispanic community——

The President. I think it is.

Ms. Aguirre. ——from truck drivers in Los Angeles. You've got the Villareal names following you. The Gonzalezes. You've got Hispanics that truly supporting. And this reality that we've had—back to President Calderon in Mexico dealing with the human trafficking—was appalling; the catastrophes that we saw. We worked hand in hand, and we were never able to achieve what you've already brought to the table. For that, the Hispanic community in America says thank you.

The President. Well, thank you, Lourdes. And I will say we've made a lot of progress. And when we're given the right ingredients—and we need that; we need the wall, we need other things, we need other forms of technology—you'll see numbers that are even better. We've done a lot of work, a lot of great work.

And I will say, the numbers will get even better once we have the right things, including technology, by the way. But if we don't have that wall, and if we don't have a very powerful barrier, it's all just a waste of time. It can't work. Can't work. So we'll get it.

Thank you all very much. I appreciate it.

Q. Mr. President, why did you agree to end the shutdown?

Q. Mr. President, were you aware that Michael Cohen——

Federal Government Shutdown/Border Security

Q. [Inaudible]—will help you out to get a deal with Congress?

The President. I think we have a chance, yes.

Q. Three weeks?

The President. I think we have a good chance. We're going to work with the Democrats. And we're going to see. And if we can't do that, then we'll do—obviously, we're going to do the emergency, because that's what it is. It's a national emergency.

These are Hispanic pastors and reverends and ministers, and they understand better than anybody, it's an emergency. It's a humanitarian emergency.

Ms. Aguirre. Absolutely.

Pastor Peña. Yes, it is.

And we are going to take care of our border. It's going to be done. And crime is going to go down throughout our whole country, not just at the border. And the border is the least of it. It's what comes in through the border and permeates throughout the whole country. And you're going to see drugs drop way down, because a big percentage come in through the border. You will see drugs way down. You're going to see crime go way down. So we're going to do it, and we're doing well. And I really appreciate your being here. Thank you. Thank you all very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:27 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. In her remarks, Pastor Bramnick referred to Supreme Court Associate Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. Ms. Aguirre referred to former President Felipe de Jesus Calderòn Hinojosa of Mexico. A reporter referred to former personal attorney to the President Michael D. Cohen.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks at a Roundtable Discussion With Hispanic Pastors on Border Security and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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