US President Donald Trump today defended his use of the controversial word "animals" to describe some illegal immigrants, asserting that he will continue to use it for members of the deadly transnational gang MS-13 despite facing flak from the Democratic leaders.
Trump clarified that he had used the term "animals" to refer to the members of the MS-13 gang, an international criminal gang that originated in the US in the 1980s and later spread to Canada, Mexico and Central America.
Most of its members are of Central American origin, principally El Salvador.
"MS-13, these are animals coming onto our country. When the MS-13 comes in, when the other gang members come into our country, I refer to them as animals. And guess what? I always will," Trump told reporters at the White House.
"We are getting them out by the thousands. But it's a big, dangerous job. And they're able, in some cases, to come back in or new groups come in also from the gangs," he said.
Trump made the controversial remark yesterday during a roundtable with law enforcement officials from California.
"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 said, triggering a torrent of condemnation from the lawmakers.
Mexico's foreign ministry sent a formal diplomatic letter to the US State Department complaining that Trump's remarks were "absolutely unacceptable."
Trump also blamed the US' "dumbest laws" for the influx of illegal immigrants in the country.
The White House also defended Trump's remarks today, saying the use of the word "animals" for the "deadly" gang members was "the least that describes them".
"The President was very clearly referring to MS-13 gang members who enter the country illegally and whose deportations are hamstrung by our laws," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters.
Terming MS-13 as one of the "most vicious and deadly" gangs that operate by the motto of rape, control and kill, she said if the media and liberals wanted to defend the gang, they were "more than welcome".
"Frankly, I don't think the term that the President used was strong enough. MS-13 has done heinous acts," she said.
"It took an animal to stab a man a hundred times and decapitate him and rip his heart out. It took an animal to beat a woman - they were sex trafficking - with a bat 28 times, indenting part of her body.
"And it took an animal to kidnap, drug, and rape a 14-year-old Houston girl. Frankly, I think that the term "animal" doesn't go far enough," Sanders said.
"I think that the President should continue to use his platform and everything he can do under the law to stop these types of horrible, horrible, disgusting people," she said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)