NOGALES, Ariz. -- Bernie Sanders has met with immigrants throughout his time on the campaign trail -- and on Saturday, he took trip to the U.S.-Mexico border to see the conditions for himself.
He listened to the stories of two immigrants, reiterated his support for comprehensive immigration reform and made a point to contrast his views with those of the GOP front-runner, Donald Trump.
"I would hope that all of us are rightly appalled by divisive, bigoted and xenophobic comments of people like Donald Trump," Sanders said in a press conference along the border, with the steel wall snaking up the hill behind him.
"To insult a nation is not befitting of anybody, let alone a candidate of the U.S. presidency," Sanders said, referring to Trump's labeling of Mexicans "as rapists and criminals."
Trump has often taken credit for the spurring a heightened immigration focus on the campaign trail. Sanders sought to put context around the numbers of immigrants that are entering the country.
"The so-called immigration problem we face today at this particular moment is a trumped up and exaggerated problem," Sanders said, explaining that the Pew Center found that net migration from Mexico is negative.
Sanders also criticized President Obama's record on immigration, describing him as part of the "deportation regime, and praised Pope Francis. He quoted the Catholic leader in saying that the solution is "compassion not hatred. Good public policy, not bigotry."
Sanders wore a pensive look on his face when he met with two young immigrants at the Nogales-Morley Gate Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona before he held his press conference. Julio Zuniga told him that he came to the U.S. from South America when he was seven years old. They mused about the fact that they both ran track in high school.
Then the conversation took a more serious turn as Zuniga dove into the hardships he has faced, including having his brother deported as a teen. Zuniga was able to get a academic scholarship to Arizona State but because he did not have a license, he rode his bike for over 30 miles to get to school everyday. Listening to his story, Sanders put his hand on Zuniga's back and softly shook his head.
Sanders also spoke with Jessica Elizabeth Orellana, a woman originally from El Salvador.
"By herself?" Sanders asked the interpreter as Orellana told her story in Spanish about coming to the U.S. from an orphanage. The answer was yes. Orellana described being in the U.S. as an opportunity because if she were in El Salvador she believes she would be dead, due to that country's high level of gang violence. She has been granted asylum from the U.S. government.
Sanders then moved onto another location to meet with Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada, who explained the challenges and opportunities of the border with Mexico.
Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, one of the few members of Congress to endorse Sanders, joined the Vermont senator on the visit and thanked him for looking at immigration in a comprehensive way.
Speaking to reporters after his visit to the border, Sanders reiterated that he thinks he can do well in the Arizona primary next week. He also gave some analysis of his losses last week -- including an admission that Ohio did not turn out as he has wanted.
"The disappointment to be honest with you was in Ohio. I had hoped that we had an outside shot at winning Ohio. And losing there by 15 points was a disappointment," Sanders explained.
Sanders also noted that the results in North Carolina were his best out of any southern state and his close finishes in Illinois and Missouri mean he will likely split delegates with Clinton. The campaign has been pressing the fact that they are looking to pick up as many delegates as possible, noting that winning future contests like California and New York would allow them to do that.
Sanders also warned that voters may not show up to the polls during the general if they do not feel like their vote is valued in the primary.
"You did not want us to participate in the primary process. Well, we are not going to come out on the general election," Sanders said, channeling the voice of a disenfranchised Democratic voter.