President Trump told a Wednesday gathering of police chiefs and sheriffs that he wants their help identifying and deporting criminals who illegally immigrated to the U.S.
“I want you to turn in the bad ones,” Trump said in a speech at the winter conference of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.
Trump said he’s been speaking to “a lot of law enforcement officials” since taking office last month. During last year’s campaign, Trump’s hard-line approach to illegal immigration was a key plank of his White House bid.
The president claimed that the authorities he has conferred with have suggested that drugs are responsible for the vast majority of crime. He further vowed to aggressively confront the drug cartels.
“We’re going to stop those drugs from poisoning our youth, from poisoning our people. We’re going to be ruthless in that fight. We have no choice, and we’re going to take that fight to the drug cartels and work to liberate our communities from their terrible grip of violence,” Trump said.
He went on to ask the local law enforcement leaders in attendance to help in this battle against drugs by informing the Department of Homeland Security about the identities of “illegal immigrant gang members.” He told the audience they have the “power and knowledge” necessary to tell Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly “who the illegal immigrant gang members are.”
“You have that power because you know them. You’re there, you’re local, you know the illegals, you know them by their first name, you know them by their nicknames. You have that power. The federal government can never be that precise, but you’re in the neighborhoods. You know the bad ones. You know the good ones,” Trump said.
Last month, Trump signed executive orders with dramatic measures to curb illegal immigration, as well as establishing that his administration wanted “the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border.” His executive orders also contained measures designed to push local authorities to assist with deportations. He called for empowering local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws and for the defunding of so-called sanctuary cities, where officials refuse to hand over some undocumented immigrants for deportation.
As he concluded his comments on the issue during the Wednesday speech, Trump suggested that much of the country’s crime is driven by immigrant gang members.
“So much of the problems — you look at Chicago and you look at other places — so many of the problems are caused by gang members, many of whom are not even legally in our country,” he said.
But according to CBS’ Chicago affiliate, local police “have never linked the violence to an influx of illegal immigrants. Rather, they say, prison sentences for gun crimes are too lenient, allowing repeat offenders with gang ties out on the street to commit more violence