WASHINGTON — While railing against California for its so-called sanctuary immigration policies, President Donald Trump referred to some people who cross the border illegally as “animals” — drawing a sharp rebuke from Democratic leaders for the harsh rhetoric.
Trump’s remark at a meeting with local leaders was in response to a comment about MS-13 gang members.
“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them,” Trump said during the immigration roundtable after Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims complained about state restrictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”
Trump has repeatedly referred to members of the violent street gang as “animals” in speeches, rallies and at White House events. He has also used the term to describe terrorists and school shooters.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., responded on Twitter to the president, saying, “When all of our great-great-grandparents came to America they weren’t ‘animals,’ and these people aren’t either.”
And House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi said, “Every day that you think you’ve seen it all, along comes another manifestation of why their policies are so inhumane.”
But White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the president’s comments, saying he was “was very clearly referring” to MS-13 gang members, and arguing the word “animals” didn’t go far enough.
“This is one of the most vicious and deadly gangs that operates by the motto of, ‘Rape, control and kill,’” she said, adding that, “If the media and liberals want to defend MS-13, they’re more than welcome to. Frankly, I don’t think the term that the president used was strong enough.”
Trump was joined at the Wednesday White House meeting by mayors, sheriffs and other local leaders from California who oppose the state’s immigration policies and who applauded his administration’s hard-line efforts.
By Jill Colvin for THE DENVER POST
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