Bloomberg: U.S. needs more immigrants

Mike Bloomberg speaks to the media in Phoenix, Nov. 26, 2019. (AP)

Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday that the United States needs "an awful lot more immigrants rather than less."

On his second day campaigning for the Democratic nomination, the former New York City mayor contrasted his views on immigration with President Donald Trump's restrictive policies and laid out a vision of a multicultural society enriched by immigrants.

"We need immigrants to take all the different kinds of jobs that the country needs — improve our culture, our cuisine, our religion, our dialogue and certainly improve our economy," the billionaire told reporters at a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix.

He blasted Trump's policies that resulted in the separation of families arriving on the border.

"Ripping kids away from their parents is a disgrace," he said.

Bloomberg reiterated his Nov. 17 apology for supporting New York's stop-and-frisk police strategy, a practice that he embraced as mayor and continued to defend despite its disproportionate impact on people of color.

He said it was a mistake but also credited it with reducing New York's murder rate.

"How many times do you hear elected officials say, 'I made a mistake'?" Bloomberg said. "None of us do everything perfectly. I'm sorry it happened, I can't rewrite history. Let's get on with it."

Bloomberg spoke in the back of a small restaurant in a heavily Latino area a few miles east of downtown Phoenix, the type of community that has helped propel Democrats to success after decades of Republican domination in Arizona. Latinos organized against a tough 2010 immigration law and against Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigration patrols, the latter of which was struck down in the courts for racial profiling.

Arizona has received scant attention form the Democrats running for president, but Bloomberg has put a heavy focus in a state he said will be crucial to the general election. It's one of four states where his campaign said it's pouring $100 million into anti-Trump digital ads, and one of five where the campaign says it will push to register voters.