President Donald Trump condemned the international narcoterrorist MS-13 organization during a Wednesday roundtable discussion on Long Island, New York. While Democrats and immigration advocates condemned his use of the word "animals" to describe the murderous organization, on Wednesday he doubled down with the epithet. "I called them 'animals' the other day and was met by rebuke," and added, "They're not people. They're animals."

With at the roundtable were local and federal law enforcement officials, as well as the families of the victims of MS-13. Freddy Cuevas, the father of a teenage girl who was hacked to death in 2016 by MS-13 members told the president on Wednesday, “I think you used the correct word. Animals. That they are.” Cuevas said, “They took her away from us and destroyed her dream.” The father of Nisa Mickens, who was also killed by MS-13, thanked the president. “This is a fight, in my opinion, that should have been happening a long time ago, I don’t know why it hasn’t, but thank you for doing what you’re doing right now,” he said.

Saying that he is alarmed that children in criminal gangs are killing other children, Mickens said “Our streets should not have to be bloodshed.” Mickens said, “Us as parents should not have to bury our child.” He also criticized Trump’s opponents. “They’re not seeing the bigger picture because they’re not living the life that we have to go through every day,” he said, while reflecting on his sense of loss.

Mickens said that immigration is a “touchy subject,” saying, “They have to realize America is based off of immigration. Everybody who came here as an immigrant wanted the American dream.” Mickens said, “The American dream is still there but if you’re going to come here with acts of violence, you can stay in your country with that because we don’t need it here anymore.”

Trump said that despite criticism that has been lodged against him, he will continue focus on gang violence. “Nobody understood it, nobody, when they started rationalizing, maybe it was the way they grew up … but we’re stuck with a big problem,” he said.

Also present at the meeting was Thomas Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Homan said that Trump was "kind" in referring to the criminals as "animals." He added, "Animals kill for survival, MS-13 kills for sport," he said.

The president noted that in some neighborhoods, residents have cheered as ICE officers have arrested criminal aliens. Trump was raised in Queens, just a few miles from where he was speaking in Nassau County. He said it is "unthinkable" what is happening on Long Island. 
"It's unthinkable that it's almost like an occupied territory, where your children are afraid to go out," the president said.

While talking about MS-13 gangs, he said that he is thinking about withholding a "rather large amount of money" from countries that produce violent illegal immigrants. The countries where MS-13 is most active are El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and from which come a large number of unaccompanied child migrants. Each of them receives substantial military and development aid from the United States. "They don't want the people that we're getting in that country," Trump said. "So we're going to work out something where every time someone comes from a certain country, we're going to deduct a rather large amount of money from what we give them in aid -- if we give them aid at all, which we may not just give them aid at all, because despite the reports I hear, I don't believe they're helping us one bit."

It is unclear exactly how Trump would be able to cut aid to countries contributing criminal aliens because foreign aid is included in the federal budget that is drafted by Congress. However, he has some discretionary power in how to spend the funds allocated by Congress.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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