At a White House event Monday to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and border agents, President Donald Trump invited a Hispanic-American immigration officer to speak about his role in an operation in which 78 undocumented immigrants were arrested.
But in introducing the officer, Trump -– seemingly trying to encourage him -- noted the officer “speaks perfect English.”
The smiling officer thanked Trump as he stood beside him at the lectern but made no comment on the president's remark.
In his opening speech, Trump targeted Democrats and issued a dire warning that any ‘blue wave’ in the November midterms would result in open borders and rampant crime across the U.S.
“The fact is, people respect law and order and they love our law enforcement and I think we're gonna have much more of a red wave than what you're going to see as a phony blue wave,” Trump said. “Blue wave means crime, it means open borders, not good.”
Trump during his speech took aim straight at members of the Democratic party who have recently called for ICE to be abolished, describing supporters of the movement as “extremists.”
“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. “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.”
The so-called #AbolishICE movement saw a surge in mainstream attention as images began to surface out of the southern border following the Trump administration's enforcement of a 'zero tolerance' policy that resulted in the separation of hundreds of children from their parents who had crossed the border illegally.
Democrats who support dismantling the agency include New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, arguing its enforcement responsibilities could instead be delegated to outside government departments.
“People are dying because of their either lack of knowledge, lack of understanding, or just plain stupidity," Trump said.
According to the White House, roughly 150 ICE officers, Customs and Border Patrol agents, and law enforcement officials attended the 'Salute to the Heroes' ceremony in addition to several state and local lawmakers.