Latino lawmakers from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) took aim at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Friday morning over his inquiry of a Hispanic judge's ethnicity and unfounded bias in the Trump University alleged fraud case.

"Blatantly Racist," "Wrong," "Terrible"

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, who represents the state's 34th Congressional District, said the idea for a presidential candidate to make a "blatantly racist" attack on an American citizen is unfathomable.

Vela is referring to Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over the alleged fraud case concerning Trump's Trump University program. Trump has questioned Curiel's fairness due to being "Mexican." Trump has been criticized for acknowledging Curiel's ethnicity, when in fact Curiel was born in Indiana from Mexican parents.

Trump insisted that his comments about Curiel were misconstrued, but Vela acknowledged that the presidential candidate has yet to apologize or retract his statements, which has also been called racist by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.

"What I believe is that Speaker Ryan needs to get Donald Trump to apologize and retract those statements or he ought to withdraw his support -- his endorsement -- for Donald Trump to be president," said Vela during press call.

U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif., representing the Golden State's 51st Congressional District, which borders the southern U.S. and Mexico border, referred to Trump as the "Republican Messiah." He said Trump seems to have "poisoned the well" for many of Republican colleagues who now want to follow the New York businessman.

Vargas, who has known Curiel for more than 25 years, also called on Ryan to speak to Trump about the ethnic remarks of Curiel, and "hopefully it will stop the onslaught-related attacks on Latinos, those of us of Mexican descent and from other Latin American countries."

Vargas said Curiel does take his job seriously and is role model for anyone who wants to serve in the legal field. According to the San Diegan, to see a presidential candidate attack a judge like Curiel is "wrong" and "terrible."

"I wish people get to know the judge -- everyone to know him, literally everyone respects him deeply. He's a very integral guy, very good human being and a person that has lots and lots of integrity. Again, I'm very saddened to see him being attacked this way."

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., spoke about the increased levels of citizenship application rates and voter registration within the Latino community and how Trump has played a role in such growth.

"Every time he opens his mouth, when he says something about Latinos, he digs a deeper hole, not only for himself -- he digs a bigger whole for Republicans," said Gutierrez, adding that Trump's words have consequences and, that come Election Day in November, the increased and new voters will not be voting for Republicans.

Trump's Clarification & Defense

On June 7, Trump issued a lengthy statement about Curiel and the Trump University case.

"It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage," Trump said. "I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent. The American justice system relies on fair and impartial judges. All judges should be held to that standard."

Trump added that he doesn't think an individual's heritage would make him or her impartial, but evidence in the case made him confident in questioning Curiel.

"I do not feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial," said Trump.

Trump added that the media made inaccuracies about the Trump University case, and still called for the case to be dismissed.


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