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The president urges local law enforcement to identify criminals who are also undocumented immigrants: “You know the good ones, and you know the bad ones. I want you to turn in the bad ones.”
WASHINGTON — President Trump got around to his usual talking points on law enforcement speaking before major sheriffs and police chiefs Wednesday in Washington, D.C., but not before patronizing the room about the straightforwardness of his immigration order.
Trump called attendees of the Major County Sheriffs’ Association / Major Cities Chiefs Association Joint Conference “people I truly feel comfortable with” and said “probably 100 percent of the people in this room” would agree with a Boston-based U.S. district court judge’s decision to let what the president has called a “Muslim ban” move forward.
“I’d like to almost know, does anybody disagree with this?” Trump asked, indicating those against should raise their hands before quickly moving on.
A judge in Seattle recently issued a nationwide ruling temporarily blocking the ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations. Trump criticized him and other federal judges currently mulling over the order for jeopardizing national security.
At various times throughout his introduction, Trump called his ban “beautiful,” “perfectly written,” and “clear” to even a high schooler, before pivoting to the issue of community safety, which he said “begins with moral leadership.”
“My message today is that you have a true, true friend in the White House,” Trump said to muted applause.
Once again inflating the U.S. murder rate, which remains close to the 57-year low it hit in 2014, Trump said murders have climbed by double digits. Trump pointed to urban crime in Chicago, where he said more than 4,000 people were shot there last year, and the rate is off to higher to start in 2017.
Trump painted an unrealistic portrait of U.S. cities “claimed by gangs” and “neighborhoods crippled by violence and fear,” promising to stop the flow of drugs across the southern border with Mexico with his infamous border wall proposal—currently in design.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘Oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,’” he said. “I wasn’t kidding. I don’t kid.”
On violence against police, Trump vowed a “zero tolerance policy” and seemed to reference the trend of officer-involved slayings of unarmed black teens when criticizing “those who demonize law enforcement” by focusing on the actions of a few. It’s a tactic Trump himself has used to delegitimize rampant protests of his Muslim ban and stance on women’s rights—seizing on isolated incidents of violence at rallies to portray them as riots.
Trump encouraged sheriffs and police chiefs to phone one of his few confirmed Cabinet members, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, to report gang members that are also undocumented immigrants.
“You now them by their first names. You know them by their nicknames,” Trump said. “You know the good ones, and you know the bad ones. I want you to turn in the bad ones.”
Urging compliance, Trump explained he attends confidential intelligence briefings and vaguely warned terrorism is “a tremendous threat, a far greater threat than people understand.”
Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.