Trump stands by statements on Mexican illegal immigrants, surprised by backlash

Republican presidential candidate and real estate mogul Donald Trump on Saturday stood by statements he made recently that too many illegal immigrants from Mexico are criminals but said he was surprised by the backlash and that his comments are causing financial concerns.

“The crime is raging and it’s violent. And if you talk about it, it’s racist,” Trump told Fox News, three days after a purported illegal Mexican immigrant deported five previous times allegedly killed a woman in San Francisco.

Trump first made his inflammatory remarks during his non-scripted, June 16 presidential announcement speech.

“When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best,” he said during the announcement. “They're not sending you, they're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they're telling us what we're getting."

Since then, a list of businesses have announced plans to cut ties with Trump’s vast business empire, while fellow Republican candidates and others have questioned Trump’s remarks.

NBC and Univision, for example, have decided not to air the Trump-owned Miss Universe Pageant, Macy’s is dropping his signature clothing line, New York Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered a review of Trump's city contracts and NASCAR is moving an annual banquet from the Trump National Doral resort in Miami.

“I didn’t know it was going to be this severe,” Trump said Saturday, adding that he was surprised by the NASCAR decision, considering he has a good relationship with the group. “I am a whipping post.”

Still, Trump has drawn support from Americans who say he is openly confronting the severity of the immigration problem that others won’t publicly knowledge.

Trump also said Saturday that the problem isn’t limited to Mexico, that everybody entering the United States is not criminal or problematic and that his concerns are rooted in national security.

“It’s about safety,” he said. “Some of the people coming here are very violent people, not all.”

Trump and fellow GOP White House candidate and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have publicly exchanged remarks since Trump’s presidential announcement, with Rubio saying Trump’s comments about Mexicans were “offensive, inaccurate and divisive.”

After Mexican illegal immigrant Francisco Sanchez apparently killed 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco in a random attack Wednesday, Trump, who has proposed build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, sent a direct tweet to Rubio, the son of Cuban parents who has made immigration reform a part of his presidential campaign.

“What do you say to the family of Kathryn Steinle in CA who was viciously killed b/c we can’t secure our border? Stand up for US,” Trump tweeted.

Federal officials said local authorities repeatedly released Sanchez, who was in their custody as recently as this spring.

On Saturday, Trump said Rubio was “weak on immigration” and that fellow GOP White House candidate and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry “could have done a lot more.”

He praised what he considers fellow candidate and Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz’s tough immigration stance, calling him “very brave.”