Jim Gilmore taps into Latinos at Hispanic Caucus event to energize his campaign

Presidential candidate Jim Gilmore on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol September 9, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Presidential candidate Jim Gilmore on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol September 9, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (2015 Getty Images)

All presidential candidates, except Donald Trump, were invited -- yet from the GOP camp only hopeful Jim Gilmore attended the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Public Policy Conference on Wednesday afternoon.

The former Virginia Governor, who didn’t reach 1 percent of the polls to qualify for the second Republican debate, was sitting among Democratic candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. Martin O’Malley at the conference in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Gilmore made a point of outlining his immigration policy, highlighting his differences with fellow GOP contenders – especially Trump.

“I disapprove of Trump’s policy and I stand for the Constitution,” Gilmore told Fox News Latino. “I believe the Constitution says that if you’re born in this country, you’re an American citizen.”

In his speech, Gilmore said he “refused to align the Republican Party with this radical doctrine,” referring to Mr. Trump’s immigration plan, saying it would  contradict the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship provision and promote mass deportations of undocumented immigrants.

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“I do not want to send a message to Latinos in this country that their children are not worthy of citizenship,” he later told FNL.

Gilmore said his policy would require undocumented immigrants to register and obtain a work permit, which would not guarantee an automatic path to citizenship.

He also defended his stance against amnesty.

“There will be a national desire for illegal immigrants to come forward to register if it means they are permitted to do what they want to do, which is to work in this country,” Gilmore said. “The heart of what I’m saying is that we should be more welcoming to the Latino population as Republicans. Right now, we’re sending a horrible message.”

Even though in the past he has spoken strongly about the need to secure the borders and eliminate sanctuary cities, the 66-year-old candidate sounded a bit more tempered on Wednesday.

“The Gilmore policy is that they are not going to be shipped out and deported,” Gilmore said. “We have to recognize that America’s heritage of offering hope, freedom and security to people from throughout the world is a key element of our national pride and the foundation of our economic success.”

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Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.