Politics

“These Aren’t People. These Are Animals.” Who Was President Trump Talking About?

Mainstream media outlets have been reporting that President Trump referred to immigrants as “animals,” saying they weren’t even human beings. However, the truth is that the President was involved in a very specific discussion about the brutally violent gang MS-13 and the “These aren’t people. These are animals” quote is intentionally being taken out of context to imply that the President is speaking about immigrants as a whole.

The comment in question occurred when the White House held a special California Sanctuary State Roundtable on Wednesday while the sheriff for Fresno County, California was talking about how ICE agents are being prevented from doing their job in her state. The following is derived from the official White House transcript of the meeting:

SHERIFF (Margaret) MIMS (Fresno County, CA): Now ICE is the only law enforcement agency that cannot use our databases to find the bad guys. 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.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It’s a disgrace. Okay? It’s a disgrace.

SHERIFF MIMS: It’s a disgrace.

THE PRESIDENT: And we’re suing on that, and we’re working hard, and I think it will all come together, because people want it to come together. It’s so ridiculous. The concept that we’re even talking about is ridiculous. We’ll take care of it, Margaret. We’ll win.

SHERIFF MIMS: Thank you. There could be an MS-13 member I know about — if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it.

THE PRESIDENT: 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. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And 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.

While the New York Times intentionally misrepresented the facts of what was said and Vox claimed that the President’s words were unclear, even CNN had to admit that the President was clearly talking about violent gang members and not immigrants as a whole. When the digital space erupted in outrage to the false narrative that news outlets were pushing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emphasized what the President had said: “I don’t think the term the president used was strong enough…it took an animal to stab a man one hundred times, decapitate him, and cut his heart out.”

MS-13 is notorious among law enforcement and gang experts for being extremely violent, even among their peers who build their reputation on their willingness to be violent. MS-13 has also utilized loopholes in DACA to bring thousands of gang members into the United States. While we can discuss the ethics of referring to any human being as an animal, we also need to have a discussion about the ethics of intentionally twisting someone’s words to sell a narrative to the people of America.

“Mata, Roba, Viola, Controla” is the MS-13 motto, which translates to “Kill, steal, rape, control.” Animals?

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Chris Erickson

Chris Erickson is a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier. He spent over 10 years in the Army and performed multiple combat deployments, as well as various global training missions throughout the world. He is still active in the veteran community and currently works in the communications industry. Follow him @EricksonPrime on Twitter.

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