At President Trump’s urging, a crowd of people attending a campaign-style rally Tuesday night in Tennessee called out in unison that immigrant members of the street gang MS-13 are “animals” — a callback to recent comments from Trump smearing some deported immigrants as animals.
“This vicious gang has transformed once peaceful, beautiful communities that I know so well… into blood stained killing fields savagely murdering, raping and mutilating their victims,” Trump said at Tuesday’s event, referencing a recent trip to Long Island. “And they don’t even want to do it with a gun. They talk about gun control. They don’t want to do it with a gun. They want to do it with knives. They want to cut people up in little pieces because it’s more painful.”
Tuesday’s comments about MS-13 come after Trump faced backlash for calling some immigrants “animals” earlier this month, saying, “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.”
Trump’s allies defended the remarks, arguing Trump was only talking about violent members of MS-13, though the transcript makes it clear that’s not the case. The White House doubled down, issuing an official statement that called M3-13 members “animals” ten separate times.
In the wake of the remarks, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that “calling people animals is not a good thing” — comments Trump referenced Tuesday.
“And then I have to listen to Pelosi and these people saying we have to respect them, they’re human beings,” Trump said at the rally. “They are not human beings. They are not human beings. This is why we call the bloodthirsty MS-13 gang members exactly the name I used last week. What was the name?”
In response, the crowd shouted in unison, “Animals!”
Trump continued, saying, “MS-13 takes advantage of glaring loopholes in our immigration laws to infiltrate our country. That’s what we do. Think of it, we are bringing them out by the thousands but they come in. We are bringing them out by the thousands.”
He went on to praise the law enforcement in Long Island, saying, “You know, in Long Island, we have guys, Border Patrol. Guys in ICE. Women, fantastic, women brave and tough and strong, but we have the people in ICE.”
What makes ICE — Immigration and Customs Enforcement — so great, according to Trump, is that they are “much tougher than these gang members,” and ICE’s work deporting MS-13 members is “liberating” Long Island, according to the president.
“They go around and grab MS-13 … and they see these people and they say ‘Man,’ and they throw them into the paddy wagons and the towns,” he said. “[For] so many in Long Island it’s like they have been liberarated like from a war. It’s like the enemy has been taken out and the people are dancing and they are waving and they are looking out their windows and waving to the ICE people.”