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‘They Aren’t People.’ President Trump Calls Deported Gang Members ‘Animals’

2 minute read

President Donald Trump analogized illegal immigrants who he said are part of gangs to animals during a meeting Wednesday with California officials who oppose their state’s sanctuary cities policy.

“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in, we’re stopping a lot of them. And we’re taking people out of the country, you wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals,” he told the group of California public figures. “And we’re taking them out of the country at a level, at a rate, that’s never happened before.”

Trump vowed to fix the system, stating that he would mitigate what he called “the dumbest laws on immigration in the world.” “We’re gonna take care of them, we’re gonna get it done,” he said.

His comments — and the meeting itself — were the latest development in his administration’s legal battle with the country’s most populous state. California has passed legislation prohibiting law enforcement officers from using funds and personnel to investigate and detain people who they suspect may be undocumented immigrants, which includes asking questions about immigration status. The legislation contradicted President Trump’s executive order on sanctuary cities, which threatened to deny funding to cities that did not implement immigration enforcement policies. (A district judge deemed the order unconstitutional last November).

The Justice Department sued California in March, alleging that the state was violating immigration policy.

California officials attending the meeting included House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, councilmember Pam Patterson and seven of the state’s mayors, along with two sheriffs and a district attorney. The President was accompanied by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan.

California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, was quick to repudiate the meeting on social media.

“[Trump] is lying on immigration, lying about crime and lying about the laws of CA,” he tweeted. “Flying in a dozen Republican politicians to flatter him and praise his reckless policies changes nothing. We, the citizens of the fifth largest economy in the world, are not impressed.”


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Write to Alana Abramson at Alana.Abramson@time.com