Trump calls immigrant gang members ‘animals,’ draws sharp rebuke

President Trump took a dehumanizing shot at undocumented immigrants Wednesday, disparaging them as “animals,” not “people.”

Trump’s harsh comment, which set off an avalanche of outrage over social media, came in response to a lament from a California sheriff who said her state’s sanctuary laws prevent local police departments from alerting federal authorities about MS-13 gang members.

“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in,” Trump said. “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people; these are animals.”

While the remark followed Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Sims’ statement about gangbangers, Trump didn’t once reference violence or gang activity in his response, instead capping it off with a sweeping rebuke of U.S. immigration laws.

“Because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again,” Trump said. “As I said before, the dumbest laws on immigration in the world. So we’re going to take care of it.”

“You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people; these are animals,” Trump said. (Pool/Getty Images)

Trump’s comments drew instant ire from immigration activists, who stressed that his usage of the slur appeared to apply to undocumented immigrants in general.

“This is sick,” Voto Latino, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, tweeted. “Immigrants are not animals. Immigrants are hardworking men and women who are seeking better futures for their children away from violence.”

During the discussion, which focused on so-called sanctuary cities, Trump also urged the Justice Department to investigate Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for obstruction of justice over her recently warning residents in her city of an imminent raid by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

ICE has become significantly more aggressive since Trump took office, with skyrocketing detention and deportation rates for undocumented immigrants without criminal records. Previous administrations have mostly focused on deporting undocumented immigrants with violent records.

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