“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — we’re stopping a lot of them,” Trump told a round-table discussion about California’s sanctuary laws on Wednesday.
“You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before,” he said.
Trump made the remarks when asked about his administration’s plans to keep out undesirable immigrants, including members of international criminal gangs like MS-13.
The Republican president, who has shown little tolerance for illegal immigration since taking office in January last year, used the meeting with state and local officials to criticize America’s immigration laws, calling them “the dumbest laws on immigration in the world.”
The Trump administration is taking legal action to invalidate sanctuary laws, which limit communication between local law enforcement and federal immigration officers.
Officials partaking in the meeting complained to the president that state laws were making it more difficult for their communities to find and deport criminals.
Trump blamed Republicans for passing “bad laws.” He also took a jab at Mexico, which is bordered to the north by the United States, for “doing nothing” to stop illegal immigration.
Trump’s remarks and his criticism of California prompted a fiery response from the state’s Democratic governor, Jerry Brown.
“Trump is lying on immigration, lying about crime and lying about the laws of California,” Brown said in a statement. “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.”
Trump has promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico to stop migrant flow into the US.
He has also warned so-called “sanctuary cities” to either do away with lax immigration laws or have their federal funding cut.