1159 GMT December 15, 2018
Trump made the remarks on Wednesday during a meeting with California municipal leaders who support his goal of making the US border impervious to illegal immigration, Reuters wrote.
“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.
Mexico’s government said it filed a diplomatic note of complaint to the US State Department over the remarks, saying that the comments were not respectful of human rights.
“President Trump referred to some immigrants, perhaps he had criminal gangs in mind, I don’t know, as animals, not as persons,” Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told local TV station Televisa on Thursday. “In the opinion of the Mexican government, this is absolutely unacceptable.”
Asked about the remarks, Trump said on Thursday they 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.
He 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.
Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said later on Thursday that Videgaray’s comments still stood.
MS-13, which started in Los Angeles in the 1980s, has grown into a cross-border criminal organization with leadership in El Salvador that has 30,000 members worldwide and 10,000 in the United States, the US Justice Department says.