Trump rips media for not covering 'permanent separations' by undocumented immigrants

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE on Friday hit back against the news media for not covering what he called “permanent separations,” referring to victims who were killed in the United States by people in the country illegally.

“These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones. The word you have to think about is 'permanently,' " Trump said at an immigration event at the White House. "You hear the other side, you never hear this side."

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Friday's event featured testimony from family members whose relatives were killed by immigrants in the country illegally. They stood on the stage holding up pictures of their deceased loved ones, which appeared to be signed by Trump, and shared their stories.

"These are the stories that the Democrats and people who are weak on immigration, they don't want to discuss," Trump said. "No major networks sent cameras to their homes or displayed the images of their incredible loved ones across the nightly news."

"They don't talk about the death and destruction caused by people who shouldn't be here," Trump added.

Fourteen relatives of so-called Angel families stood on stage against a backdrop emblazoned with the phrases "Protect Our Communities" and "Secure Our Borders" superimposed over an American flag.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHomeland Security advisory council members resign over family separations: report Republican Uber riders say driver kicked them out with 'Welcome to the resistance' Top Senate Dem: Trump administration's lack of focus on election security an 'embarrassment' MORE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting Director Thomas Homan and several dozen law enforcement officers were in attendance in the auditorium.

"None of our kids had a minute to say goodbye," said Laura Wilkerson, whose 18-year-old son was beaten to death. "We weren't lucky enough to be separated for five days, 10 days. We're separated permanently."

The event comes as the Trump administration has faced intense outrage and wall-to-wall media coverage for its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has led thousands of immigrant children to be separated from their parents at the border while the adults face prosecution.

While Trump sought to defuse the exploding political crisis by signing an executive order on Wednesday to end family separations, lawmakers are still pressing for a legislative fix.

Friday's event, which was announced the previous night, was a clear attempt to shift the narrative on the family-separation issue, which has engulfed the White House and congressional Republicans over the past week.

Trump's critics, however, have shown no sign that they're going to take the pressure off the administration.

"While we are encouraged that President Trump has signed an executive order to stop the unnecessary and cruel separation of children from their families, by no means is this crisis over," Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellPoll: Majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Protests and anger: Washington in turmoil as elections near Dem senator says Supreme Court vote could be 'career ending' for lawmakers MORE (D-Wash.) tweeted Friday afternoon.

Trump has urged Congress to fix the United States's “weak” immigration laws and tighten up its borders.

“Where is the media outrage over the catch-and-release policies that allow deadly drugs to flow into our country?” Trump said Friday. “Where is the condemnation of the Democrats’ sanctuary cities that release violent criminals into our communities?”

Trump also touted the Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office, a service created in April 2017 to provide victims of crime with immigration status information of the perpetrators.

VOICE released its first quarterly report Friday, covering its activities from April to September 2017. According to the report, VOICE received 4,602 calls during that period. Of those calls, 2,515 "were not calling for the VOICE Office’s assistance."

– Rafael Bernal contributed

Updated: 4:44 p.m.