Trump on immigrant gang members: 'These aren't people,' they're 'animals'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE on Wednesday condemned some gang members in the country illegally as "animals" and vowed to strengthen the country's immigration laws.

“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in, 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," Trump said during a meeting with California officials who oppose the state's "sanctuary city" laws.

“These aren’t people. These are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a rate that’s never happened before," Trump added.

Trump was responding to Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, who expressed frustration over how California’s sanctuary city laws have limited the ability of local law enforcement officials to enforce federal immigration laws. 

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“It’s really put us in a very bad— it’s a disgrace,” Mims said.

“There can be an MS-13 gang member, if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I can’t tell [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] about them,” she added.

Trump blamed the influx of immigrants in the country illegally on the U.S. having “the dumbest laws on immigration in the world," and pledged his administration would address the issue.

He has called on Congress repeatedly in recent months to enact stricter laws to limit the number of immigrants who come across the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We’re working hard and I think it will all come together. Because people want it to come together,” Trump said Wednesday.

Trump has long complained that sanctuary cities, which don’t compel local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law, are making the country less safe.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein warns of growing cyber threat from Russia, other foreign actors Key GOP lawmaker throws cold water on Rosenstein impeachment With new immigration policy, Trump administration gutting the right to asylum MORE filed a lawsuit in March against California over some of its sanctuary policies, arguing that the laws are designed to intentionally obstruct the enforcement of federal immigration law.

This story was updated at 4:27 p.m.