In a roundtable meeting at the White House on Wednesday centered on sanctuary city policies, President Donald Trump referred to undocumented immigrants as “animals.” Trump made this comment after a Fresno sheriff said that her county is unable to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when an MS-13 gang member is in jail for a minor crime. While Trump didn’t specify if the comment was solely aimed at gang members, he never clarified his answer and continued to speak about policies that would largely affect millions of undocumented immigrants.
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders clarified Pres. Trump’s “animal” comments saying they referred to the MS-13 gang.
Press Sec. Sanders says Pres. Trump's "animals" comment yesterday referred to MS-13 gang members.
— ABC News (@ABC) May 17, 2018
Sec. Sanders attempted to clarify the President’s comments on Thursday morning saying, “The president was very clearly referring to MS-13 gang members who enter the country illegally.”
The President’s comments come a day after his administration decided to refer every person caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution.
"We're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people — these are animals." During a meeting with public officials who oppose California’s sanctuary policies, Pres. Trump criticized US immigration laws https://t.co/C6tQ0GTI4O pic.twitter.com/lCGWCzaaTV
— CNN (@CNN) May 16, 2018
The new policy will result in the separation of parents from their children at the border. The administration is ready to place immigrant children on military bases after separated from their parents while attempting to cross the U.S border. According to CNN, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the new policy by saying similar separations happen in the US “every day.”
Some are saying the administration is using the gang as a bigger scapegoat in the fight against immigration.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump was referring to the MS-13 gang when he called people being deported “animals."
She also said the term "doesn't go far enough.”
Critics say the White House is using the gang to scapegoat immigrants:pic.twitter.com/UlubRwUwNR
— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 17, 2018
President Trump has a well documented history of being anti-immigrant starting with the first day he announced he was running for office when he said Mexico was sending “rapists” and “crime” to the United States. His administration has used gangs like MS-13 in reference when it comes to immigration policies.
Many see the administration’s stance on immigration through its detailed history of remarks and policies that have largely affected undocumented people.
Seriously asking – what possible context is there that makes Trump's "they're animals" comment from yesterday more nuanced?
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) May 17, 2018
ICE arrested 45,436 immigrants without criminal records showing how aggressive the Trump administration has been when it comes to detaining undocumented people. The number of arrests of non-criminal immigrants has also spiked since July 2017, between 32 and 40 percent of arrestees have been noncriminals.