WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump was lauded by inner-city pastors, including one who said he may go down as the “most pro-black president” in recent history, during a White House roundtable on Wednesday that was focused on efforts to reform the prison system.
Trump told the group, which included pastors and bishops from across the country, that his administration has been making progress on efforts to make it easier for prisoners to re-enter society and find work.
“When we say hire American, we mean all Americans,” Trump said.
Among those gathered was Darrell Scott, a black Ohio pastor who was an early supporter of Trump’s campaign and has been working with the administration on urban and prison issues.
“This is probably the most pro-active administration regarding urban America and the faith-based community in my lifetime,” Scott told the group, adding, “This is probably going be … the most pro-black president that we’ve had in our lifetime.”
He compared Trump to his predecessor, Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, and said: “This president actually wants to prove something to our community, our faith-based community and our ethnic community.”
“The last president didn’t feel like he had to,” he added, saying of Obama: “He got a pass.”
During his campaign, Trump accused Democrats of doing too little to help urban communities and often asked African-Americans what they had to lose by voting for him.
The White House has been focusing its criminal justice reform efforts on improving re-entry, rehabilitation and workforce training programs, instead of sentencing reform, which many advocates argue would make a bigger difference.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, has been leading the effort, which has included lobbying Congress to pass a bill called the First Step Act.
The House passed the bill in May.