Donald Trump did not back down from controversial statements he made about immigration from Mexico, telling reporters Friday that his comments were taken out of context, and repeating his statements that Mexico is sending people to the U.S. that "Mexico doesn't want."
Trump spoke at the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills after meeting with families of those killed by undocumented immigrants.
"People came into the country illegally and killed their children. And it’s a very, very, sad thing what’s happening with our country … And nobody wants to talk about it," Trump said. Trump also referenced the high-profile killing of a woman in San Francisco allegedly by an undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times in the past.
Family of several crime victims joined Trump at the news conference and said they supported the Republican presidential candidate’s blunt talk on illegal immigration — statements that have caused some companies, including NBC Universal and Univision, to cut ties with the businessman.
"No one really listened to us, our story really wasn’t heard," said Sabine Durden, whose 30-year-old son was killed by a driver who was an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala three years ago. "When I heard Mr. Trump, I started screaming," she said. "Finally, someone who had the guts to say what millions are thinking."
Trump said recent comments about immigration from Mexico that generated controversy were taken out of context. "I have great respect for the country of Mexico," he said.
Trump also discussed a recent phone call with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, in which a source said the presidential candidate was asked to pull back his rhetoric on immigration. When asked Friday if he was urged to "tone it down," Trump responded: "He did, very little at the end ... But he also said, you know, you have a personality, that's your personality."
Trump will speak in Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday, where larger-than expected crowds caused the venue to be moved to the Phoenix Convention Center, organizers said.
Sen. John McCain, a Republican who represents Arizona, on Friday issued a statement that did not mention Trump by name but criticized "the circus surrounding the debate over illegal immigration" and said it was bad for the party and the country.
Sen. Jeff Flake, also a Republican representing Arizona, on Thursday said "Donald Trump's views are coarse, ill-informed and inaccurate."