- Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images
- President Donald Trump’s remark referring to some unauthorized immigrants as “animals” Wednesday drew backlash.
- Trump was referencing unauthorized immigrants associated with the MS-13 gang, but many critics still felt his comments were dehumanizing.
- Trump also claimed the US has the “dumbest” immigration laws in the world.
President Donald Trump drew backlash Wednesday after referring to some unauthorized immigrants as “animals” during a conversation with California lawmakers and officials.
Trump was referencing unauthorized immigrants associated with the MS-13 gang. But some critics felt his comment was broadly dehumanizing of immigrants.
During the meeting, a California sheriff complained to Trump about legal hurdles in detaining unauthorized immigrants and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, specifically referencing MS-13.
“ICE is the only law enforcement agency that cannot use our databases to find the bad guys,” Sheriff Margaret Mims said. “They cannot come in and talk to people in our jail, unless they reach a certain threshold. They can’t do all kinds of things that other law enforcement agencies can do. And it’s really put us in a very bad position.”
“There could be an MS-13 member I know about – if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it,” Mims added.
Trump replied: “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in – and we’re stopping a lot of them – but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”
The president further claimed the US is removing such individuals out of the country “at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.”
Trump also said the US has the “dumbest” immigration laws in the world.
The backlash to Trump’s remarks on social media was swift
Here’s a sampling:
Before enslavement Africans were called “apes”
Before the Holocaust Jewish people were called “rats”
Before the Rwandan genocide Tutsis were called “cockroaches”
Calling undocumented people “animals” as the president just did is gravely serious. It’s not just an offensive word
— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) May 16, 2018
IF you are a decent person and were in a meeting where @realDonaldTrump called immigrants “animals,” you will denounce him NOW. Otherwise, what makes you any different?
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) May 17, 2018
Immigrants communities have lower crime, better overall health and contribute massively to the economy.
Trump calls them animals because he is racist. There is no other reason.
— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) May 16, 2018
But some conservative commentators, among others, felt the president’s comments were broadly taken out of context and portrayed as if he referred to all unauthorized immigrants as ‘animals’
He referred to MS-13 as animals.
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) May 17, 2018
He was specifically talking about MS-13, and you know it. They are animals. I know you would rather side with them than Trump as you so often make clear but it’s a bad look for you Andrea. https://t.co/Mgoj1celNv
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 17, 2018
America: Our distrust in the media can’t get any worse
Media: hold my beer
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) May 17, 2018
This is EXACTLY why people don't trust the media. Trump was very obviously talking about MS-13 when he referred to them as "animals."
So crazy that he called a gang that carry out vicious machete attacks, execution-style gunshots, gang rape, and human trafficking "animals." pic.twitter.com/YlbnRWOtrg
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) May 17, 2018
Some also recognized the context of Trump’s remarks but criticized his rhetoric nonetheless
Trump gets to call human beings animals because when we argue with him, he gets to say that liberals are defending MS-13.
It's clear from the context that he's talking about MS-13, but it's also clear that he wants to paint undocumented immigrants with the broadest brush.
— Hank Green (@hankgreen) May 17, 2018
Context is always important, but I don't want U.S. presidents in my lifetime calling any category of humans "animals."
— Matt Welch (@MattWelch) May 17, 2018
What if MS-13 members are still human and it's bad to call them animals
— Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt) May 17, 2018
Trump has referred to undocumented immigrants associated with gangs as “animals” in the past, and his stance on immigration continues to divide Americans.