Trump says 'animals' comment refers to criminals, Mexico protests

While railing against California for its so-called sanctuary immigration policies, US 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.

"We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in - we're stopping a lot of them", Trump said in the Cabinet Room during an hourlong meeting that reporters were allowed to document.

"And so when the president of the United States says about undocumented immigrants, 'these aren't people, these are animals, ' you have to wonder does he not believe in the spark of divinity?" she asked.

Answering a reporter's question during a meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, Trump said his comment a day earlier had clearly been directed at members of the MS-13 gang.

"This is one of the most vicious and deadly gangs that operates by the motto of rape, control and kill", Sanders said. Trump blamed the influx of illegal immigrants in the USA on the country's "dumbest laws".

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. Frankly, I don't think the term that the president used was strong enough.

Trump's comments evoked "an ugly history of dehumanization".

The Associated Press tweeted that it had "deleted a tweet from late Wednesday on Trump's "animals" comment about immigrants because it wasn't made clear that he was speaking after a comment about gang members".

Ohioans could pay more at the pump for Iran sanctions
DeHaan did warn prices may spike again depending on what President Trump decides in regards to the Iran Nuclear deal . Florida's average fell one cent to $2.73 on Sunday, but that's up 35 cents compared to this time a year ago .

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Evelyn Rodriguez and Freddy Cuevas, parents of children who were murdered by MS-13 watch as U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC.

In response to one user who joked, "Hey Johnny, MS-13 are some fine people, right?"

"MS-13, these are animals coming onto our country".

Writing for the Miami Herald, Fabiola Santiago said Trump's comment was "a calibrated move to stoke anti-immigrant furor in a midterm election year" and an example of "hate speech" against "people seeking refuge". "It took an animal to stab a man 100 times and decapitate him and rip his heart out".

Trump made the controversial remark yesterday during a roundtable with law enforcement officials from California. It took an animal to beat a woman they were sex-trafficking with a bat 28 times indenting part of her body.

Trump was unapologetic about his language and said he'd use it again.

"President Trump referred to some immigrants, perhaps he had criminal gangs in mind, I don't know, as animals, not as persons", Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told local TV station Televisa on Thursday.

  • Megan Austin