OPINION

Geraldo Rivera: Donald Trump doesn’t have a racist bone in his body

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 23:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves after speaking at a caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on February 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The New York businessman won his third state victory in a row in the "first in the West" caucuses.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 23: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves after speaking at a caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on February 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The New York businessman won his third state victory in a row in the "first in the West" caucuses. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)  (2016 Getty Images)

On Sunday May 1, 2016, I ran into Donald Trump, who had just appeared for a remote taping of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. Chris was in Washington DC.; Mr. Trump was in our studio on the 12th floor of Fox News World Headquarters in New York.

I was about to appear on Fox and Friends at our-first floor studio to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the killing of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden by our superb Navy SEALS in Pakistan on May 1st, 2011.

We need to build bridges not walls. To spread fear through this already frightened community might appeal to the hard core xenophobes needed to win the GOP nomination, but it is not the American Way.

- Geraldo Rivera

I went upstairs to say hello to my longtime friend. When the GOP leader finished taping, to avoid any competitive jealousy that I was stealing Chris’ guest, I joked to Mr. Trump that I thought it was “Bring Your Friend to Work Day.” Rather than ask the presumptive Republican nominee to come downstairs with me, I told Mr. Trump I was going on Fox and Friends and would be delighted if he stopped by.

He did, to my surprise, taking a seat on what we call the “curvy couch,” for a long, newsworthy interview on the eve of a pivotal primary in Indiana on Tuesday May 3rd.

That friendly gesture is an example of why I love the guy. He has always treated my family and me with sincere respect and affection. "Celebrity Apprentice" was a blast. I hold him and his family in the highest regard. He is a man who doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. He is a down-to-earth, all around good guy.

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But Donald Trump knows that despite my personal positive feelings about him and his, I could never vote for him to be president unless and until he moderates his toxic immigration policy.

We can't deport undocumented but otherwise law-abiding families who have been here for decades; many with U.S.-born citizen children. Make them register, get background checks, pay a fine, learn English and get on line. But don’t round them up like they were terrorists. They are the pizza deliverers, the baby sitters, the lawn mowers, the poultry processors, the meat packers and so forth. They make America stronger, not weaker.

We need to build bridges not walls. To spread fear through this already frightened community might appeal to the hard core xenophobes needed to win the GOP nomination, but it is not the American Way. It is impractical if not impossible. It would profoundly disrupt urban and agrarian society and would pit people against one another in a way unseen in America for a century.

More importantly, such a draconian action would not jibe with the Donald Trump that I have known for decades as a good and honest man, a tremendous and creative businessman and a terrific dad and grandfather who would otherwise make a great president.

He is a smart practical man and he will do the right thing. Now that he has effectively won the Republican nomination, he has the chance to moderate his position on Mexicans and Muslims and to move to the center. If he doesn’t, then again, he knows that I could never vote for him. He may win anyway, but he would take an office in a nation divided against itself. He is better than that. He will do the right thing.

None of the above is to suggest that there aren’t real problems with our southern border. The Mexican drug cartels are flooding our towns and cities, particularly in the Northeast, with heroin in amounts and potency unseen previously. The Sinaloa Cartel formerly run by the billionaire drug lord ‘El Chapo,’ Joaquin Guzman, also known by the DEA as the “Osama bin Laden of the drug trade,” is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.  

I hope you catch my weekend special, “Fox Reports: Beauty and the Beast, When Kate met Chapo,” an in-depth investigation on how the most wanted man on earth risked everything for a jungle rendezvous with Kate del Castillo, a lovely actress over whom the drug lord obsessed.

It airs on Fox News Channel on Saturday May 7th at 8pm ET and again on Sunday, May 8th at 9pm.

Geraldo Rivera currently serves as a roaming correspondent-at-large for Fox News Channel. He joined the network in 2001 as a war correspondent.