Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Democrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' MORE told a Latino leadership conference Thursday he "firmly" believes Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE will not be president of the United States.
Addressing the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), the Democratic presidential candidate said that Latino immigrant families live in "fear" and "sadness" and "what has exacerbated that fear is the presence of Donald Trump."
While presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation MORE did not accept NALEO's invitation to speak at the event, Sanders made no mention of her in his speech, instead focusing on policy proposals and Trump's candidacy.
"I had hoped, and I think most Americans had hoped, that by the year 2016 maybe we would be beyond having candidates make bigotry the cornerstone of their campaigns," said Sanders.
Trump was also invited to speak but did not accept.
The Vermont senator was the lone major party to address NALEO's 2016 conference, but Libertarian nominee Gary JohnsonGary Earl JohnsonBiden broadened Democratic base, cut into Trump coalition: study New Mexico lawmakers send recreational marijuana bills to governor Judge throws out murder convictions, releases men jailed for 24 years MORE is slated to speak at the event later Thursday.
Republican presidential nominees John McCainJohn Sidney McCain20 years after 9/11, US foreign policy still struggles for balance What the chaos in Afghanistan can remind us about the importance of protecting democracy at home 'The View' plans series of conservative women as temporary McCain replacements MORE in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 addressed the group, as did President Obama in both years.
Sanders outlined four major issues confronting the Hispanic community: the need for comprehensive immigration reform, an inclusive economy, criminal justice system reform and the financial crisis in Puerto Rico.
The House passed bipartisan legislation meant to help Puerto Rico get out of debt on June 9, and it is now slated for review by the Senate. Sanders said in his speech that bill is "a very, very, very bad piece of legislation" and through it, "we are treating [Puerto Rico] as an absolute colony."
Sanders also slammed the Obama administration's deportation policies, saying immigration raids "must end" and advocating for temporary protected status for Central American families fleeing violence in their home countries.
He argued in favor of the president's executive actions on immigration, saying that "if Congress does not do its job," the next president must also "use the executive powers of that office" to reform the immigration system.