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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Developer Jorge Pérez jokes about his friend Donald Trump's policies in Tampa speech

TAMPA — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's immigration policy was the subject of jokes made Wednesday by his longtime friend and business partner Jorge Pérez.

Pérez, the CEO and founder of the Related Group, was the keynote speaker at the 2016 Latinos Unidos Luncheon scholarship luncheon. The luncheon is put on by the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Council, and Pérez spoke to a crowd of about 650 people at the Hilton Tampa Downtown.

The Miami developer and art collector is starting to turn his focus to developing Tampa. Last year his company bought the Tampa Tribune's property and plans to build a mid-rise residential project on the 4-care site that will overlook the Hillsborough River.

The Related Group also built the Pierhouse at Channelside apartments and is planning to build a 21-story apartment tower on Harbour Island. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn gave him the key to the city during the luncheon.

Pérez's company built two towers in South Florida that bear the Trump brand thanks to a licensing deal from the presidential candidate (the Related Group no longer owns them, however). Pérez said Trump called him asking for his support in the election.

“I told Trump if I support you there will not be one Hispanic person who will talk to me,” Pérez said.

While he and Trump have conducted business together in downtown Miami and are close friends, Pérez said he and Trump don’t agree on politics. Pérez supports Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

As for Trump's now famous comment that he would build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and force Mexico to pay for it, Pérez just laughed and said this:

“I told him when you build a 30-foot wall that the Mexican government will pay for," Pérez said, "what side of the wall do I get to be on?”

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 6:17pm]


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