President Trump slammed the media Wednesday night for ignoring American families “permanently separated” from their loved ones in crimes committed by illegal immigrants, on the same day he reversed a much-criticized policy that separated illegal immigrant children from their parents.
At a packed campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota, the president tried to change the focus from his immigration policy backpedaling by spotlighting cases such as Kate Steinle, a woman shot and killed by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco in 2015.
“The media never talks about the American victims of illegal immigration — what’s happened to their children, what’s happened to their husbands, what’s happened to their wives,” Mr. Trump said. “The media doesn’t talk about the American families permanently separated from their loved ones because Democrat policies release violent criminals into our communities.”
He said TV networks “don’t bring cameras to interview the ‘Angel’ moms whose children were killed by criminal aliens who should have never been here in the first place.”
“But as your president, I will always fight to protect American families,” Mr. Trump said. “I will never be silent in the face of vicious smears and attacks on the heroic agents and officers of ICE and the border patrol who save thousands and thousands of lives.”
He turned that theme into a campaign issue, telling the boisterous crowd, “If you want to create a humane, lawful system of immigration, then you need to retire the Democrats and elect Republicans to finally secure our borders.”
It was Mr. Trump’s first campaign rally in a state that he lost to Hillary Clinton two years ago, as he visited Minnesota to revel in the strong economy and the state’s revived mining industry.
He also taunted Mrs. Clinton, referring to last week’s Justice Department internal report that criticized the FBI’s handling of the investigation into her private email server, which found no crime was committed.
“No matter what she did, no matter how many crimes she committed, they wanted her to be innocent,” he said of the FBI. “They wanted to put us in trouble. And it’s not working too well.”
To howls of delight from the audience, Mr. Trump said, “By the way, is there anything more fun than a Trump rally?”
At the capacity arena of 9,000 with many others unable to get in, Mr. Trump defended his tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum as necessary to protect U.S. workers.
“We’re fighting to protect American iron, aluminum and steel, and fighting to protect our incredible and very brave miners,” Mr. Trump said to cheers.
The president was campaigning for Republican Pete Stauber, who’s running for an open seat in Minnesota’s Eighth congressional district. Mr. Trump said voters need to vote Republican in November “to keep this momentum” on the economy.
“We need more Republicans in the midterms,” he said. “A vote for a Democrat in the midterm is really a vote for Nancy Pelosi and her radical agenda. They would have put on more regulations and raise the hell out of your taxes, and the whole thing will go ‘boom.’ We’re not going to let it happen. We’ve worked too hard to get here.”
He also accused Democrats of pushing for illegal immigration, on the day he signed an executive order stopping his policy of separating children from parents who enter the country illegally.
“We want people to come in through merit, not through happenstance,” Mr. Trump said. “We need safety.”
He said the media never talks about American families who are “separated” by violence committed by illegal immigrants.
A few hecklers were removed from the arena during the early part of the rally as the crowd chanted “U.S.A.” and Mr. Trump taunted “go home to your mommy. Is that a man or woman, because he needs a haircut more than I do.”
The president also held a roundtable with workers at the Port of Duluth-Superior to discuss the state’s improved iron mining industry, which has benefited from the administration’s deregulation.
“So much work is going forward in Minnesota,” Mr. Trump said. “We’ve cut out massive numbers of regulations. And we have more to cut. The era for economic surrender for the United States is over.”
He was joined by business leaders, workers and elected officials including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, who referred to Mr. Trump as “an iron president.”
“What a difference one president makes,” he said.
Mr. Trump lost Minnesota in 2016 to Mrs. Clinton by 1.5 percentage points. He joked that he would have won the state if he had only made “one more speech!”
Rep. Tom Emmer, Minnesota Republican, predicted that Mr. Trump will become in 2020 the first GOP candidate to win the state since 1972.
“You are a leader a time when there are so few leaders around the world,” Mr. Emmer said. “The people that you see in this room right now … have been dying for somebody to hear them, to listen to them, and to understand what they need. Instead they’ve had academics and intellectuals patting them on the head for years. God bless you for following through and talking to the forgotten men and women of this country.”
But Rep. Keith Ellison, a top Democratic National Committee official who’s running for attorney general in Minnesota, criticized Mr. Trump bringing his “divisive rhetoric” to Duluth.
“This administration is failing to protect the rights and freedoms our country stands for — from separating families at the border, to repealing net neutrality, to jeopardizing healthcare for millions,” Mr. Ellison said. “With President Trump spreading his hateful message again tonight, there’s no better time to stay connected.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Minnesota’s 8th congressional district, which includes Duluth, stands to lose 18,000 good-paying jobs due to Mr. Trump’s trade feud with neighboring Canada. She also said the average tax cut for the bottom 80 percent of Minnesotans is $774 this year.
“The American people are confronted with a GOP Congress and administration that has taken every opportunity to stack the deck for the wealthy and well-connected against hard-working American families and seniors,” she said. “From health care, to taxes, to good-paying jobs, to critical consumer protections President Trump and the GOP Congress are giving the American people a raw deal.”