Historian on Trump: 'If you're closing the border, you don't understand that immigrants built this country'

Historian Mark Updegrove suggested in an interview that aired Thursday on Hill.TV's "Rising" said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE does not understand immigrants' role in the history of the U.S. 

"I don't think we have a president that understands the plight of immigrants," Updegrove, the president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation, told Hill.TV's Jamal Simmons. "If you're closing the border, you don't understand that immigrants built this country." 

Updegrove was referring to Trump's threat last week to shut down the U.S. border with Mexico, which he later backed off from. 

The historian, who has also written on the Bush family, compared the president's policies and rhetoric on immigration to former President George W. Bush's immigration stances. 

"George W. Bush, our last Republican president, of course, was also governor of this state [Texas]," he said. "When he got reelected in 1998, he did so with 64 percent of the Latino Vote." 

"When he went to the White House, he wanted sensible immigration reform. It was one of his great disappointments that he didn't get that," he said. "He understood immigration. He often campaigned in Spanish." 

Trump has pushed for stricter immigration policies in recent months, declaring a national emergency earlier this year to circumvent Congress and build a wall along the southern border.  

— Julia Manchester