PHOENIX (AP) – Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday that the United States needs â€œan awful lot more immigrants rather than less.â€
On his second day campaigning for the Democratic nomination, the former New York City mayor contrasted his views on immigration with President Donald Trumpâ€™s restrictive policies and laid out a vision of a multicultural society enriched by immigrants.
â€œWe need immigrants to take all the different kinds of jobs that the country needs – improve our culture, our cuisine, our religion, our dialogue and certainly improve our economy,â€ the billionaire told reporters at a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix.
He blasted Trumpâ€™s policies that resulted in the separation of families arriving on the border.
â€œRipping kids away from their parents is a disgrace,â€ he said.
Bloomberg reiterated his Nov. 17 apology for supporting New Yorkâ€™s stop-and-frisk police strategy, a practice that he embraced as mayor and continued to defend despite its disproportionate impact on people of color.
He said it was a mistake but also credited it with reducing New Yorkâ€™s murder rate.
â€œHow many times do you hear elected officials say, â€˜I made a mistakeâ€™?â€ Bloomberg said. â€œNone of us do everything perfectly. Iâ€™m sorry it happened, I can’t rewrite history. Let’s get on with it.â€
Bloomberg spoke in the back of a small restaurant in a heavily Latino area a few miles east of downtown Phoenix, the type of community that has helped propel Democrats to success after decades of Republican domination in Arizona. Latinos organized against a tough 2010 immigration law and against Sheriff Joe Arpaioâ€™s immigration patrols, the latter of which was struck down in the courts for racial profiling.
Arizona has received scant attention form the Democrats running for president, but Bloomberg has put a heavy focus in a state he said will be crucial to the general election. Itâ€™s one of four states where his campaign said itâ€™s pouring $100 million into anti-Trump digital ads, and one of five where the campaign says it will push to register voters.