Mexico has blasted US President Donald Trump for calling some illegal immigrants “animals,” pledging to file a complaint against the “unacceptable” choice of language.
Trump triggered a wave of criticism on Wednesday when he made the remark during a round-table discussion about California’s immigration laws on Wednesday.
“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 told local and state officials who supported his crackdown on immigration.
Mexico’s government took issue with the remark, with Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray announcing that he would be filing a formal complaint with the US State Department over the remarks.
“President Trump referred to some immigrants — perhaps he had criminal gangs in mind, I don’t know — as animals, not as persons,” Videgaray told local TV station Televisa on Thursday. “In the opinion of the Mexican government, this is absolutely unacceptable and we are going to formally communicate this to the US State Department today.”
Trump remained unapologetic in light of the criticism, however, saying later on Thursday that his remarks had been taken out of context.
“I’m referring and you know I’m referring to the MS-13 gangs that are coming in. I was talking about the MS-13. And if you look a little bit further on in the tape, you’ll see that,” Trump told reporters, referring to an international criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles, California, in 1980s.
The American president also doubled down on his earlier comments.
“MS-13 – these are animals… We need strong immigration laws… We have laws that are laughed at on immigration. So 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 added.
Trump has promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico to stop migrant flow into the US.
He has also warned so-called “sanctuary cities” to either do away with lax immigration laws or have their federal funding cut.