Pres­i­dent Trump de­fends ‘an­i­mals’ re­mark, says he will al­ways use it

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - OBITUARIES - By Jill Colvin

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Thurs­day de­fended his use of the word “an­i­mals” to de­scribe some im­mi­grants who en­ter the coun­try il­le­gally, say­ing he would con­tinue to use the term to re­fer to vi­o­lent gang mem­bers in spite of a sharp re­buke from Demo­cratic lead­ers.

An­swer­ing a reporter’s ques­tion dur­ing a meet­ing with NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg, Trump said his com­ment a day ear­lier had clearly been di­rected at mem­bers of the MS-13 gang.

“MS-13, these are an­i­mals com­ing onto our coun­try,” Trump said, re­peat­ing his lan­guage from Wed­nes­day. He added: “When the MS13 comes in, when the other gang mem­bers come into our coun­try, I re­fer to them as an­i­mals. And guess what? I al­ways will.”

Trump has been un­der fire for com­ments he made Wed­nes­day while rail­ing against Cal­i­for­nia for its so­called sanc­tu­ary im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies. Trump was speak­ing at a round­table with lo­cal Cal­i­for­nia of­fi­cials when he re­sponded to a com­ment that had ref­er­enced MS-13.

“We have peo­ple com­ing into the coun­try, or try­ing to come in — and we’re stop­ping a lot of them,” Trump said 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, 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.

“This is your Re­pub­li­can re­sis­tance right here against what they’re do­ing in Cal­i­for­nia,” said Assem­bly­woman Melissa Me­len­dez, coopt­ing a term used by Democrats op­posed to Trump’s pres­i­dency. She, like oth­ers, said the pres­i­dent and his poli­cies were far more pop­u­lar in the state than peo­ple re­al­ize.

They were crit­i­ciz­ing leg­is­la­tion Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last year that bars po­lice from ask­ing peo­ple about their im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus or help­ing fed­eral agents with im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment. Jail of­fi­cials can trans­fer in­mates to fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties if they have been con­victed of one of about 800 crimes, mostly felonies, but not for mi­nor of­fenses.

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