President Trump refused to back down when challenged by a reporter Wednesday on his use of the word “invasion” to describe massive illegal immigration at the U.S. border with Mexico.
Trump was taking questions on the South Lawn of the White House as he headed to Dayton and El Paso to pay respects following the deadly mass shootings in those cities last weekend
Trunp’s stand was echoed by senior administration aide Kellyanne Conway and senior campaign official Tim Murtaugh in separate interviews.
Transcript of Trump’s remarks via the White House:
Q Mr. President, do you still believe that illegal immigration into this country is an invasion? You and the shooter in El Paso used that same language. Do you regret that?
THE PRESIDENT: I think that illegal immigration — you’re talking about illegal immigration, right? Yeah? I think illegal immigration is a terrible thing for this country. I think you have to come in legally. Ideally, you have to come in through merit. We need people coming in because we have many companies coming into our country. They’re pouring in. And I think illegal immigration is a very bad thing for our country. I think open borders are a very bad thing for our country.
And we’re stopping; we’re building a wall right now. We won the lawsuit in the Supreme Court two weeks ago. The wall is well under construction. It’s being built at a rapid pace. We need that. We need strong immigration laws. But we want to allow millions of people to come in because we need them. We have companies coming in from Japan, all over Europe, all over Asia. They’re opening up companies here. They need people to work. We have a very low unemployment rate.
So, I believe we have to have legal immigration, not illegal immigration.