LATINO VOICES

Latino Business Group Knocks Donald Trump For Standing Them Up

He confirmed last month that he would attend the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event.
GOP candidate Donald Trump was scheduled to appear at a U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event on Oct. 8. (AP Photo/Ste
GOP candidate Donald Trump was scheduled to appear at a U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event on Oct. 8. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

WASHINGTON -- Republican candidate Donald Trump told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Friday that he will no longer attend an event scheduled for next week, because his advisers worried he would be pressed on his deportation plans and get questions from reporters, chamber spokesman Ammar Campa-Najjar said. 

The group has hosted Q&As with candidates from both parties. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce issued a statement saying Trump had canceled his appearance, which was supposed to take place on Thursday, because he thought he would be "put on trial."

"Trump would have been treated no differently than other candidates," the group said. "As stated previously, as with all candidates, we want our members and the American people to hear from each presidential hopeful, away from public spectacle of the debate floor, to form their own opinions."

"Withdrawing from the Q&A can only suggest that Trump himself believes his views are indefensible before a Hispanic audience," the statement continued.

Trump's advisers told the chamber they didn't want to put the candidate "in the mouth of a lion," Campa-Najjar told The Huffington Post. They knew Chamber President and CEO Javier Palomarez would challenge him on his policy proposals. Campa-Najjar said the campaign also asked if reporters would have a chance to ask questions at the end -- as they have at all previous Q&As -- and whether people like Fusion's Jorge Ramos would be there.

Trump will speak at a campaign rally in Nevada on Thursday instead, spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement.  

"Mr. Palomarez continues to leverage the national media attention surrounding Mr. Trump to benefit his organization and exploit Mr. Trump to enlist additional support and increase interest and revenue in his coalition including asking Mr. Trump to join his chamber for a fee amounting to between $25,000 and $2 million dollars, which Mr. Trump refused to do," she wrote. "Mr. Trump remains committed to reaching out to the Hispanic Community in more genuine and productive ways as he continues to share his vision to Make America Great Again."
 
Palomarez had not asked Trump to join or support the chamber, and had severed all business relations with him, Campa-Najjar said.
 

At past Q&As, Palomarez has pressed candidates on a wide array of topics, such as business, national security, the economy and immigration. He had planned to do the same for Trump. Republican candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Democratic candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley participated in similar chamber-hosted events. A Q&A with GOP contender Ohio Gov. John Kasich is scheduled for Tuesday.

Things were most likely to get tense during the immigration portion of Trump's event. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is nonpartisan, but Palomarez has criticized the candidate for his immigration statements, which include plans for mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and a border wall, and his claim that Mexico was sending murderers and rapists across the border. 

The organization is boycotting Trump hotels over those statements on Mexican immigrants.

Trump met with Palomarez and others from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 1, at the businessman's request, according to the group. At that meeting, he stuck to his immigration stances but was engaging, Palomarez said at the time.

Afterward, Trump told Geraldo Rivera during a radio interview that he planned to speak at a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Q&A, and later confirmed for Oct. 8.

"I will go to Washington," Trump told Rivera. "That won't be that easy a meeting because you'll have hundreds of people and they will have constituents of [Palomarez's] and they may disagree with me but ultimately we will all get along."

Trump hasn't received many chances to speak to largely Latino audiences -- he was the sole Republican to not be invited to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute conference. He could use a boost with Latino voters, 67 percent of whom have a "very negative" view of him, according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo survey released Wednesday.

This article has been updated with comment from the Trump campaign.