President Donald Trump hosted citizens “permanently separated” from their loved ones due to crime, perhaps seeking to turn the attention away from the more than 2,000 children separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border.
“We’re gathered today to hear directly from the American victims of illegal immigration. You know you hear the other side, you never hear this side. You don’t know what is going on,” Trump said, speaking in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building highlighting “angel families.”
“These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones. The word permanently being the word that you have to think about. Permanently. They are not separated for a day or two days. Permanently separated,” Trump said, seeking to cast a contrast between grieving families and the crisis on the border that has captured the nation’s attention and prompted his administration to hastily craft an executive order.
Trump incorrectly suggested that the illegal immigrant population is more dangerous than US citizens.
“I always hear that – ‘Oh no, the population is safer than the people that live in the country.’ You’ve heard that, fellows, right? And I say is that possible? The answer is it is not true. You hear like they are better people than what we have, than our citizens, it is not true,” he said.
The term “angel families” has been championed by activist groups to describe those who have lost a family member to violence perpetrated by undocumented immigrants. There is no data supporting the argument that immigrants are prone to committing crime or terrorism at higher rates than the general population.
Trump has spoken about “angel families” often, referencing the group as he justifies his hardline policies on illegal immigration. He made frequent campaign trail appearances with members of the The Remembrance Project, a group whose mission is to “raise awareness of the suffering families impacted by Illegal Alien Crime,” per its Facebook page.
On Friday, as the situation on the border continued to play out, the group of impassioned grieving parents shared violent and gruesome stories of the deaths of their loved ones, urging action on border security.
Trump often invited them to appear on stage at rallies or met with their families behind-the-scenes, attending the group’s annual luncheon in Houston in September 2016 as he touted key campaign promises to build a wall and deport people who are in the US illegally.
“The media never talks about the American victims of illegal immigration. I know them well. I know so many of them. I campaigned with them. What’s happened to their children, what’s happened to their husbands, what’s happened to their wives,” Trump said this Wednesday during a campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota.
He continued: “They 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. Not even close. They don’t want to talk to the angel moms.”
CNN’s Noah Gray contributed to this report.