During a roundtable on sanctuary cities Wednesday, President Donald Trump dehumanized certain undocumented immigrants, calling them not people but “animals”, and claiming that his administration is removing them from the United States “at a rate that’s never happened before”.
"We're taking people out of the country -- 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."
Trump appeared to be referencing criminal undocumented immigrants, such as those associated with the MS-13 gang he routinely mentions, but he did not specify about whom he was speaking.
"And we're taking them out of the country at a rate that's never happened before,” the president said. “Because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It's crazy."
In Trump's first year, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 109,000 criminals and 46,000 people without criminal records -- a 171% increase in the number of non-criminal individuals arrested over 2016.
"We target criminal aliens, but we're not going to exempt an entire class of (non)citizens," Department of Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton told reporters Wednesday.
"All of those in violation of immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States," ICE spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez added in a statement.