President Trump praised the Department of Homeland Security’s new efforts to arrest and deport more illegal immigrants Thursday, calling it “a military operation” that is getting “really bad dudes” out of the U.S.
“We’re getting drug lords out,” Mr. Trump told business executives at a White House meeting. “We’re getting really bad dudes out of this country, at a rate that nobody’s ever seen before. It’s a military operation.”
The president said DHS Secretary John F. Kelly, who is attending meetings in Mexico with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, “has been unbelievable at the border.”
“All of a sudden for the first time, we’re getting gang members out,” Mr. Trump said. “What has been allowed to come into our country, when you see gang violence that you’re read about like never before, much of that is people who are here illegally. And they’re rough and they’re tough, but they’re not tough like our people. So we’re getting them out.”
Mr. Kelly authorized federal agents this week to begin arresting and deporting more illegal immigrants, lifting restrictions that the Obama administration had imposed and putting millions of people in the country without authorization at risk of deportation. In two memos, Mr. Kelly unleashed a new immigration enforcement push nationwide.
Referring to Mr. Tillerson’s first visit to Mexico amid border and trade tensions, the president said, “That’s going to be a tough trip, because we have to be treated fairly by Mexico.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Mr. Trump was speaking descriptively, not literally, when he described the immigration crackdown as a “military operation.”
“The president was using that as an adjective. It’s being done with precision,” Mr. Spicer said. “The president was clearly describing the manner in which this is being done. It’s being done with a high degree of precision and in a flawless manner.”