Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is not backing down from his remarks that Mexican criminals are flowing into the United States illegally.
But at the same time, he says he has "great relationships with Mexican people."
Trump and families of people slain by allegedly illegal immigrants spoke Friday evening at the Luxe hotel in Brentwood.
"I have many many people who work for me who are Mexican - they're phenomenal people, I love 'em, they're enormously talented, tremendous spirit. I have great respect for the country of Mexico, the problem is the country of Mexico has leaders that are far smarter than our leaders."
He gave the speech to a group of conservatives after meeting with the families of crime victims who were killed by people in the U.S. illegally.
Some of those who spoke at the conference afterward were relatives of Jamiel Shaw, Jr. who was slain in 2008 by an immigrant in the U.S. illegally who mistook Shaw for a rival gang member due to his red backpack.
Some of Shaw's family spoke of how their community supports Trump.
"People [in my community] who haven’t voted want to vote," Shaw's father said during the conference. "We see hope, we see change. Me and my community we trust him, we trust him a lot."
Protestors from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles were outside the event with signs that say "Dump Trump" and Trump piñatas filled with trash representing his "trash talk," CHIRLA told KPCC.
Trump visits Phoenix Saturday where he will be facing more immigrant-rights advocates and many fellow Republicans who disagree with his beliefs.