President Donald Trump is defending his use of the word "animals" to describe members of the MS-13 street gang.
"Comparing any person to an animal, regardless of criminal record or immigration status... is an invitation to violate human rights, to hate, to xenophobic rhetoric, and that is something that can not be accepted", he told Mexican TV network Televisa. The gang has been responsible for dozens of gruesome murders in the U.S.
FILE - Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray listens during a news conference in Mexico City, Mexico, Feb. 2, 2018. So we're going to take care of it, Margaret.
Trump then went on to outline his immigration plan, which included restrictions on family-based immigration, ending the visa lottery program in favor of a "merit-based" immigration system (the visa lottery is already considered "merit-based"), and adding $25 billion in funding for a wall along the southern US border with Mexico. He exhorted his administration to "do much better" in keeping out undesirable people, including members of transnational gangs like MS-13. Past year he used it to describe MS-13 gang members while calling for a crackdown on gang violence. "And guess what?" Trump said.
He also doubled down on his earlier comments.
President Donald Trump on Thursday tried to revise his statement the previous day that the United States was committed to deporting undocumented immigrant "animals". He has argued that the gang - whose members largely hail from Central America - highlights the need for stricter immigration enforcement laws.
"AP has 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", reads the tweet to the AP's 12.8 million followers on Thursday morning.
Mexico's Foreign Ministry said later on Thursday that Videgaray's comments still stood. She, like others, said the president and his policies were far more popular in the state than people realize.
The round table took place exactly one week after Mr. Trump used a closed-door cabinet meeting to castigate Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, for failing to do enough to crack down at the border.
"They're coming into our country; we're getting them out".