Trump lauds ICE at White House event

Trump lauds ICE at White House event

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE on Monday invited border enforcement agents to the White House, where he heaped praise on their efforts to crack down on immigration and cast the GOP as the party of law and order.

Trump hit on many of the same points he lays out in his more raucous campaign rallies, pledging his unwavering support for law enforcement, emphasizing the need for stricter immigration laws and painting Democrats as pro-crime and anti-Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

“We will not stand for the vile smears, the hateful attacks and the vicious assaults on the courageous men and women of ICE, Border Patrol and law enforcement,” Trump said during the event in the East Room. 

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“We will protect those who protect us,” he continued. “The extremists who attack ICE and CBC like to portray themselves as champions of social justice. They are not."

“But their radical policies are the ultimate injustice, hurting innocent Americans and spilling innocent blood,” Trump said. “People are dying because of their either lack of knowledge, lack of understanding or just plain stupidity.”

Trump spoke for roughly a half hour, calling on a few Border Patrol agents to step up to the podium and recount their experiences. He referred to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as "CBC" on roughly a half-dozen occasions.

The president invited a border patrol agent by the name of Adrian Anzaldua up to the podium to recognize him for arresting a man in Laredo, Texas, who was holding 79 illegal immigrants in a trailer. 

“Thank you, Adrian. Great job,” Trump said, calling on him to speak. “Come here. You’re not nervous, right? Speaks perfect English.”

It's unclear what the impetus for Monday's event was, but Trump has lionized ICE in recent months as he continues to plead for stricter immigration laws and appeal to his base leading up to November's midterm elections.

The president frequently lauds the agency during campaign rallies and at White House speeches that touch on immigration, praising them for removing MS-13 gang members from the country.

Trump has also attempted to position views toward ICE as a hot-button campaign issue after a handful of high-profile Democrats voiced support for abolishing the 15-year-old agency.

On Monday, Trump lamented the criticism ICE agents face, attributing the negative rhetoric to “extremists” who favor open borders and crime. The president simultaneously suggested that pushback toward the agency is overblown. 

“And I will also say, you’re talking about the vast majority ... they’re all with you,” Trump said. “It’s just a small group that gets a lot of publicity because they have no courage, they have no guts, they just have big, loud mouths.”

ICE and border patrol agents found themselves at the center of a political firestorm earlier this year after the Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Thousands of migrant children were separated from their families as a result of the directive. 

Trump signed an executive order in June halting the separations after weeks of mounting political pressure and repeatedly claiming only Congress could address the issue.

While ICE did not directly separate the families, activists protested at the agency’s offices across the country, and Democratic lawmakers questioned the effectiveness of the agency’s methods.

A number of potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates — including Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenCarbon tax could give liberals vast power to grow federal government Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her More Massachusetts Voters Prefer Deval Patrick for President than Elizabeth Warren MORE (Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisCelebrities, lawmakers wear black to support Kavanaugh’s accuser Dems fight to protect Mueller amid Rosenstein rumors Kamala Harris calls for Senate to protect Mueller probe as Rosenstein faces potential dismissal MORE (Calif.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandKamala Harris calls for Senate to protect Mueller probe as Rosenstein faces potential dismissal This week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos Gillibrand calls for Kavanaugh nomination to be withdrawn MORE (N.Y.) seized on the issue and voiced support for abolishing ICE entirely.

Most Democrats have said they have concerns about eliminating the agency, noting that some branch of government is required to enforce immigration laws. 

Trump on Monday cited a House vote last month in which 133 Democrats voted “present” rather than support or oppose a measure expressing support for ICE.

“Any politician who puts criminal aliens before American citizens should find a new line of work because it’s not going to work,” he said, before pivoting to the need for stricter immigration laws.

Trump has made cracking down on illegal immigration a hallmark issue since the time he hit the campaign trail. He has regularly derided the U.S. as having the “worst” laws of anywhere in the world and called on Congress to pass legislation restricting both illegal and legal immigration.

However, lawmakers have not taken substantial action on the issue aside from providing funding, with both the House and the Senate rejecting a number of immigration reform proposals this year.

"We need new laws. We need border laws we need immigration laws, we need them fast, we’re going to get them," Trump said. "Hopefully the midterms will help toward that end.

“The fact is people respect law and order and they love our law enforcement,” he continued. “And I think we’re going to have much more of a red wave than what you’re going to see as a phony blue wave. Blue wave means crime, it means open borders. Not good.”

Updated at 4:46 p.m.