President Donald Trump calls immigrants 'animals.'

C-SPAN samstein/Twitter Remix by Samantha Grasso

Trump under fire for calling deported immigrants ‘animals’

'These aren't people,' the president said.


Samantha Grasso


Posted on May 17, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 3:37 pm CDT

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump made disparaging comments about deported immigrants, saying, “These aren’t people. These are animals.”

Trump’s comments came during a roundtable discussion with California sheriffs, after Fresno Sheriff Margaret Mims had said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency that detains undocumented people across the country, cannot talk to detained immigrants unless “they reach a certain threshold.”

Mims then went on to say that if she hypothetically knew about a member of the gang M-13, she wouldn’t be able to tell ICE about them if it weren’t for this threshold. That’s when Trump chimed in.

“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 stated.

In response, Trump’s critics have slammed him for dehumanizing immigrants by directly calling them animals.

Many have used Trump’s comments to compare him to Adolf Hitler and Nazis, who dehumanized Jews and other marginalized groups as justification for their murder.


Trump supporters, however, have argued that Trump’s comments were specifically made regarding members of the gang MS-13, and have shamed critics and news outlets for sharing this soundbite of the president without this context.

Based off Trump’s comments, and the general context in which he made them, it’s unclear whether the president was actually referencing members of the gang MS-13. However, even paring down Trump’s comments to talking about gang members, aka “criminals,” as opposed to undocumented immigrants, still means the president’s comments were dehumanizing to criminals, who are people nonetheless.

Comments disparaging immigrants are not the first from the president. Shortly after announcing his campaign, Trump called Mexicans “rapists,” and doubled down on those comments recently when speaking about the caravan of migrants from Central America. Trump also asked earlier this year why the U.S. isn’t taking in immigrants from countries such as Norway, and instead accepts immigrants from “shithole countries,” a term he used in reference to Haiti and African countries.

Regardless of which group of people the president was referencing, these dehumanizing comments appear to be part of a larger pattern when it comes to Trump and immigration. That much is clear.

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*First Published: May 17, 2018, 9:44 am CDT