On Friday, President Trump traveled to Long Island to address a group of law enforcement officials and speak about the administration’s efforts to eradicate the gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. His speech stuck largely to that theme, though he also made note of Thursday night’s failed health-care vote.
Trump’s speech was noteworthy, though, for its embrace of aggressive tactics by police officers. He insisted that his team was “rough” and encouraged police officers not to be concerned about preventing physical harm to people being taken into custody. The laws, he said, were “stacked against” the police.
“Please don’t be too nice,” Trump told the officers, to applause. Below, his comments, as provided by the White House, with our highlights and annotations. To see an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted text.
Well, thank you very much. This is certainly being home for me. I spent a lot of time right here. I was in Queens, so I’d come here, and this was like the luxury location for me. And I love it. I love the people here. Even coming in from the airport, I sat with Nikki Haley, who’s here someplace. Where’s our Nikki? Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is so incredible. (Applause.) And she’s seen crowds in her life, and she said, boy, those are really big crowds. Crowds of people all lining the streets, all the way over to here. And it’s really a special place. And so when I heard about this, I said, I want to do that one.
But I really wanted to do it not because of location, but because, as you know, I am the big, big believer and admirer of the people in law enforcement, okay? From day one. (Applause.) From day one. We love our police. We love our sheriffs. And we love our ICE officers. And they have been working hard. (Applause.) Thank you. They have been working hard.
Together, we’re going to restore safety to our streets and peace to our communities, and we’re going to destroy the vile criminal cartel, MS-13, and many other gangs. But MS-13 is particularly violent. They don’t like shooting people because it’s too quick, it’s too fast. I was reading — one of these animals was caught — in explaining, they like to knife them and cut them, and let them die slowly because that way it’s more painful, and they enjoy watching that much more. These are animals.
We’re joined today by police and sheriffs from Suffolk, Nassau, Dutchess and Ulster counties; state police from New York and New Jersey — many of you I know, great friends; Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers; and law enforcement personnel from a number of federal agencies. So we’re loaded up with great people — that’s what I call it.
And I want to just tell you all together, right now, the reason I came — this is the most important sentence to me: On behalf of the American people, I want to say, thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you.
And I don’t think you know how much the public respects and admires you. You’re saving American lives every day, and we have your backs — believe me — we have your backs 100 percent. Not like the old days. Not like the old days. (Applause.)
You know, when you wanted to take over and you used military equipment — and they were saying you couldn’t do it — you know what I said? That was my first day: You can do it. (Laughter.) In fact, that stuff is disappearing so fast we have none left. (Laughter.) You guys know — you really knew how to get that. But that’s my honor. And I tell you what — it’s being put to good use.
I especially want to thank ICE Director Tom Homan, who has done an incredible job in just a short period of time. Tom, get up here. I know you just — (applause) — Tom is determined to rid our nation of cartels and criminals who are preying on our citizens. And I can only say to Tom: Keep up the great work. He’s a tough guy. He’s a tough cookie. Somebody said the other day, they saw him on television, and somebody — they were interviewed after that; they said, he looks very nasty, he looks very mean. I said, that’s what I’m looking for. (Laughter.) That’s exactly what I was looking for.
And for that, I want to congratulate John Kelly, who has done an incredible job of Secretary of Homeland Security. Incredible. (Applause.) One of our real stars. Truly, one of our stars. John Kelly is one of our great stars. You know, the border is down 78 percent. Under past administrations, the border didn’t go down — it went up. But if it went down 1 percent, it was like this was a great thing. Down 78 percent. And, in fact, the southern border of Mexico, we did them a big favor — believe me. They get very little traffic in there anymore, because they know they’re not going to get through the border to the United States.
So that whole group has been incredible, led by General Kelly.
Let me also express our gratitude to the members of the New York Delegation here today: Congressman Chris Collins. Where’s Chris? Oh, Chris, right from the beginning he said, “Trump is going to win. Trump is going to win.” So I like him. (Laughter.) I didn’t like him that much before; now I love him. (Laughter and applause.) Dan Donovan — thanks, Dan. (Applause.) Thank you, Dan. And Lee Zeldin, who I supported right from the beginning, when they said he didn’t have a chance of beating a pretty popular incumbent. (Applause.)
And I saw him in a debate. I said, I think this guy is going to win. But he fought a pretty popular guy, and I said, I think he’s going to win and went heavy for him, and he won. And he won pretty easily, didn’t you? Pretty good. I’m proud of you. Great job.
And, of course, a legend, somebody that we all know very well, sort of my neighbor — because I consider him a neighbor — but he’s really a great and highly respected man in Washington, Congressman Peter King. (Applause.) Very respected guy. He is a respected man that people like to ask opinions of. I do.
Congressman King and his colleagues know the terrible pain and violence MS-13 has inflicted upon this community — and this country. And if you remember just a little more than two years ago, when I came down the escalator with Melania, and I made the speech — people coming into this country. Everyone said, what does he know? What’s he talking about?
And there was bedlam. Remember bedlam? And then about two months later, they said, you know, he’s right. So I’m honored to have brought it to everybody’s attention. But the suffering and the pain that we were going through — and now you can look at the numbers — it’s a whole different world.
And it will get better and better and better because we’ve been able to start nipping it in the bud. We’ve nipped it in the bud — let’s call it start nipping in the bud.
And MS-13, the cartel, has spread gruesome bloodshed throughout the United States. We’ve gotten a lot of them out of here. Big, big percentage. But the rest are coming — they’ll be out of here quickly, right? Quickly. Good. (Applause.)
So I asked Tom on the plane — he was never on Air Force One — I said, how do you like it? He said, I like it. (Laughter.) But I said, hey, Tom, let me ask you a question — how tough are these guys, MS-13? He said, they’re nothing compared to my guys. Nothing. And that’s what you need. Sometimes that’s what you need, right?
For many years, they exploited America’s weak borders and lax immigration enforcement to bring drugs and violence to cities and towns all across America. They’re there right now because of weak political leadership, weak leadership, weak policing, and in many cases because the police weren’t allowed to do their job. I’ve met police that are great police that aren’t allowed to do their job because they have a pathetic mayor or a mayor doesn’t know what’s going on. (Applause.)
Were you applauding for someone in particular? (Laughter.) It’s sad. It’s sad. You look at what’s happening, it’s sad.
But hopefully — certainly in the country, those days are over. You may have a little bit longer to wait.
But from now on, we’re going to enforce our laws, protect our borders, and support our police like our police have never been supported before. We’re going to support you like you’ve never been supported before. (Applause.)
Few communities have suffered worse at the hands of these MS-13 thugs than the people of Long Island. Hard to believe. I grew up on Long Island. I didn’t know about this. I didn’t know about this. And then all of a sudden, this is like a new phenomenon. Our hearts and our nation grieve for the victims and their families.
Since January ‘16 — think of this — MS-13 gang members have brutally murdered 17 beautiful, young lives in this area on Long Island alone. Think of it. They butcher those little girls. They kidnap, they extort, they rape and they rob. They prey on children. They shouldn’t be here. They stomp on their victims. They beat them with clubs. They slash them with machetes, and they stab them with knives. They have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful, quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields. They’re animals.
We cannot tolerate as a society the spilling of innocent, young, wonderful, vibrant people — sons and daughters, even husbands and wives. We cannot accept this violence one day more. Can’t do it, and we’re not going to do it. Because of you, we’re not going to be able to do it. You’re not going to allow it to happen, and we’re backing you up 100 percent. Remember that — 100 percent. (Applause.)
It is the policy of this administration to dismantle, decimate and eradicate MS-13 at every other — and I have to say, MS-13, that’s a name; rough groups — that’s fine. We got a lot of others. And they were all let in here over a relatively short period of time. Not during my period of time, believe me. But we’re getting them out. They’re going to jails, and then they’re going back to their country. Or they’re going back to their country, period.
One by one, we’re liberating our American towns. Can you believe that I’m saying that? I’m talking about liberating our towns. This is like I’d see in a movie: They’re liberating the town, like in the old Wild West, right? We’re liberating our towns. I never thought I’d be standing up here talking about liberating the towns on Long Island where I grew up, but that’s what you’re doing.
And I can tell you, I saw some photos where Tom’s guys — rough guys. They’re rough. I don’t want to be — say it because they’ll say that’s not politically correct. You’re not allowed to have rough people doing this kind of work. We have to get — just like they don’t want to have rich people at the head of Treasury, okay? (Laughter.) Like, I want a rich guy at the head of Treasury, right? Right? (Applause.)
I want a rich guy at the head of Commerce. Because we’ve been screwed so badly on trade deals, I want people that made a lot of money now to make a lot of money for our country.
And, by the way, as I was walking up, they just gave me the numbers. Our numbers just came out this morning. GDP is up double from what it was in the first quarter. (Applause.) 2.6 percent. We’re doing well. We’re doing really well. And we took off all those restrictions. And some we’re statutorily stuck with a for a little while, but eventually that statute comes up, and we’re going to be able to cut a lot more. But we’ve sort of liberated the world of creating jobs like you’re liberating us and the people that live in areas.
But I have to say, one by one, we are indeed freeing up these great American towns and cities that are under siege from gang violence.
Look at Los Angeles. Look at what’s going on in Los Angeles. Look at Chicago. What is going on? Is anybody here from Chicago? We have to send some of you to Chicago, I think. (Laughter.) What’s going on?
I mean, you see what’s happening there? There’s no — do we agree? Is there something maybe — (applause) — is there something — I have to tell you one Chicago story.
So Chicago is having this unbelievable violence; people being killed — four, five, six in a weekend. And I’m saying, what is going on?
And when I was running, we had motorcycle brigades take us to the planes and stuff. And one of the guys, really good — you could see a really respected officer, police officer. He was at the head. He was the boss. And you could see he was the boss. He actually talked like the boss. “Come on, get lined up.” Because I’d always take pictures with the police because I did that. My guys said, don’t do it. Don’t do it. (Applause.)
Other candidates didn’t do it that I was beating by 40 points, can you believe it? But I did it. Maybe that’s why I was winning by 40 points. But other candidates wouldn’t do it, but I always took the pictures with the police.
But we’re in Chicago, and we had massive motorcycle bridges, and you know those people have to volunteer. I don’t know if you know that, but from what I understand, they have to volunteer. And I had the biggest brigades. I had brigades sometimes with almost 300 motorcycles. Even I was impressed. I’d look ahead and it was nothing but motorcycles because they’d volunteer from all over various states.
But this one guy was impressive. He was a rough cookie and really respected guy. I could see he was respected. And he said, “All right, come on, get over here. Get over here. He’s got to get to work. Get over here.” And I said, “So let me tell — you’re from Chicago?” “Yes, sir.” I said, “What the hell is going on?” And he said, “It’s a problem; it can be straightened out.” I said, “How long would it take you to straighten out this problem?” He said, “If you gave me the authority, a couple of days.” (Laughter.) I really mean it. I said, “You really think so?” He said, “A couple of days. We know all the bad ones. We know them all.” And he said, the officers — you guys, you know all the bad ones in your area. You know them by their names. He said, “We know them all. A couple of days.”
I said, “You got to be kidding.” Now, this is a year and a half ago. I said, “Give me your card.” And he gave me a card. And I sent it to the mayor. I said, “You ought to try using this guy.” (Laughter.)
Guess what happened? Never heard. And last week they had another record. It’s horrible.
But we’re just getting started. We will restore law and order on Long Island. We’ll bring back justice to the United States. I’m very happy to have gotten a great, great Justice of the United States Supreme Court, not only nominated, but approved. And, by the way, your Second Amendment is safe. (Applause.) Your Second Amendment is safe. I feel very good about that. It wasn’t looking so good for the Second Amendment, was it, huh? If Trump doesn’t win, your Second Amendment is gone. Your Second Amendment would be gone.
But I have a simple message today for every gang member and criminal alien that are threatening so violently our people: We will find you, we will arrest you, we will jail you, and we will deport you. (Applause.)
And, you know, we had some problems with certain countries. Still do with a couple, but we’ll take care of them — don’t worry about it. Anytime we have a trade deficit, it’s very easy — which is almost everywhere. We have trade deficits with almost every country because we had a lot of really bad negotiators making deals with other countries. So it’s almost everywhere, so that takes care of itself.
But we had certain countries in South America where they wouldn’t take the people back. And I said, that’s okay, no more trade. All of a sudden they started taking their people back. It’s amazing, isn’t it? They used to send to the former Secretary of State of the country, “Please call. Would you please work it so that we can take” — and they used to just tell her, “No, we won’t take back.” They take back with us, every single time. We’re having very little problem. Are we having any problem right now with that? Huh? You better believe it. Give me the names of the few problems. We’ll take care of it, I’m telling you. (Laughter and applause.) It’s unbelievable.
One of the old people — one of the people that represented the other administration — I said, why didn’t you use that, the power of economics? “Sir, we think one thing has nothing to do with another.” I said, oh, really? So we’ll have big deficits and they won’t take back these criminals that came from there and should be back there? Well, believe me, to me, everything matters. But they’re all taking them back.
ICE officers recently conducted the largest crackdown on criminal gangs in the history of our country. In just six weeks, ICE and our law enforcement partners arrested nearly 1,400 suspects and seized more than 200 illegal firearms and some beauties, and nearly 600 pounds of narcotics.
The men and women of ICE are turning the tide in the battle against MS-13. But we need more resources from Congress — and we’re getting them. Congress is actually opening up and really doing a job. They should have approved healthcare last night, but you can’t have everything. Boy, oh, boy. They’ve been working on that one for seven years. Can you believe that? The swamp. But we’ll get it done. We’re going to get it done.
You know, I said from the beginning: Let Obamacare implode, and then do it. I turned out to be right. Let Obamacare implode. (Applause.)
Right now, we have less than 6,000 Enforcement and Removal Officers in ICE. This is not enough to protect a nation of more than 320 million people. It’s essential that Congress fund another 10,000 ICE officers — and we’re asking for that — so that we can eliminate MS-13 and root out the criminal cartels from our country.
Now, we’re getting them out anyway, but we’d like to get them out a lot faster. And when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon — you just see them thrown in, rough — I said, please don’t be too nice. (Laughter.) Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody — don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay? (Laughter and applause.)
It’s essential that Congress fund hundreds more federal immigration judges and prosecutors — and we need them quickly, quickly — if we’re going to dismantle these deadly networks. And I have to tell you, you know, the laws are so horrendously stacked against us, because for years and years they’ve been made to protect the criminal. Totally made to protect the criminal, not the officers. If you do something wrong, you’re in more jeopardy than they are. These laws are stacked against you. We’re changing those laws. But in the meantime, we need judges for the simplest thing — things that you should be able to do without a judge. But we have to have those judges quickly. In the meantime, we’re trying to change the laws.
We’re also working with Chairman Bob Goodlatte on a series of enforcement measures — and he’s a terrific guy — to keep our country safe from crime and terrorism — and in particular, radical Islamic terrorism. (Applause.) A term never uttered by the past administration. Never uttered. Did anybody ever hear that term? I don’t think so.
But you heard it from me.
That includes cracking down on sanctuary cities that defy federal law, shield visa overstays, and that release dangerous criminals back into the United States’ communities. That’s what’s happening. They’re releasing them. So many deaths where they release somebody back into the community, and they know it’s going to end that way. That’s the sad — they know it’s going to end that way. We’re ending those procedures. (Applause.) Thank you.
We have to secure — I spoke to parents, incredible parents. I got to know so many parents of children that were so horribly killed — burned to death, beaten to death, just the worst kind of death you can ever — stuffed in barrels. And the person that did it was released, and you’d look at the file, and there were letter after letter after letter of people begging not to let this animal back into society; that this would happen, it would happen quickly. It wasn’t even like it would happen over a long period of time. They were saying it would happen quickly. It’s total violence. He’s a totally violent person. You cannot let this person out.
They let the person out, and sometimes it would happen like on the first day. And then you have to talk to the parents and hold the parents and hug them. And they’re crying so — I mean crying. Their lives are destroyed. And nobody thinks about those people. They don’t think about those people. They’re devastated.
But we’re ending so much of that. We’re ending hopefully all of that. The laws are tough. The laws are stacked against us, but we’re ending that. (Applause.)
So we’re going to secure our borders against illegal entry, and we will build the wall. That I can tell you. (Applause.)
In fact, last night — you don’t read about this too much, but it was approved — $1.6 billion for the phase one of the wall, which is not only design but the start of construction over a period of about two years, but the start of construction for a great border wall. And we’re going to build it. The Wall is a vital, and vital as a tool, for ending the humanitarian disaster brought — and really brought on by drug smugglers and new words that we haven’t heard too much of — human traffickers.
This is a term that’s been going on from the beginning of time, and they say it’s worse now than it ever was. You go back a thousand years where you think of human trafficking, you go back 500 years, 200 years, 100 years. Human trafficking they say — think of it, but they do — human trafficking is worse now maybe than it’s ever been in the history of this world.
We need a wall. We also need it, though, for the drugs, because the drugs aren’t going through walls very easily — especially the walls that I build. I’m a very good builder. You people know that better than most because you live in the area. That’s why I’m here. (Applause.) We’ll build a good wall.
Now, we’re going to build a real wall. We’re going to build a wall that works, and it’s going to have a huge impact on the inflow of drugs coming across. The wall is almost — that could be one of the main reasons you have to have it. It’s an additional tool to stop the inflow of drugs into our country.
The previous administration enacted an open-door policy to illegal migrants from Central America. “Welcome in. Come in, please, please.”
As a result, MS-13 surged into the country and scoured, and just absolutely destroyed, so much in front of it. New arrivals came in and they were all made recruits of each other, and they fought with each other, and then they fought outside of each other. And it got worse and worse, and we’ve turned that back.
In the three years before I took office, more than 150,000 unaccompanied alien minors arrived at the border and were released all throughout our country into United States’ communities — at a tremendous monetary cost to local taxpayers and also a great cost to life and safety.
Nearly 4,000 from this wave were released into Suffolk County — congratulations — including seven who are now indicted for murder. You know about that.
In Washington, D.C. region, at least 42 alien minors from the border surge have been recently implicated in MS-13-related violence, including 19 charged in killings or attempted killings.
You say, what happened to the old days where people came into this country, they worked and they worked and they worked, and they had families, and they paid taxes, and they did all sorts of things, and their families got stronger, and they were closely knit? We don’t see that.
Failure to enforce our immigration laws had predictable results: drugs, gangs and violence. But that’s all changing now.
Under the Trump administration, America is once more a nation of laws and once again a nation that stands up for our law enforcement officers. (Applause.)
We will defend our country, protect our communities, and put the safety of the American people first. And I’m doing that with law enforcement, and we’re doing that with trade, and we’re doing that with so much else. It’s called America First. It’s called an expression I’m sure you’ve never heard of: Make America Great Again. Has anybody heard that expression? (Applause.)
That is my promise to each of you. That is the oath I took as President, and that is my sacred pledge to the American people.
Thank you everyone here today. You are really special, special Americans. And thank you in particular to the great police, sheriffs, and ICE officers. You do a spectacular job. The country loves you. The country respects you. You don’t hear it, but believe me, they respect you as much as they respect anything. There is the respect about our country. You are spectacular people. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: Because of the danger of your job, which people also understand fully, I leave you with the following: Thank you and may God bless you. May God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. (Applause.)