House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on Thursday denounced Donald Trump for calling illegal immigrants "animals," without clarifying that the president was only referring to members of the transnational drug gang MS-13.
"When the president of the United States says about undocumented immigrants, ‘These aren't people; these are animals,' you have to wonder: does he not believe in the spark of divinity, the dignity and worth of every person?" Pelosi said at her weekly press conference.
Trump's remark came in response to a comment from Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims about MS-13. He said the following: "We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in. We're stopping a lot of them, but we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people. These are animals, and we're taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that's never happened before."
Numerous media outlets falsely reported that Trump was referring to all migrants coming into the United States. The New York Times characterized Trump's remarks as him having "lashed out at undocumented immigrants during a White House meeting," tweeting out the text of his remarks without the previous MS-13 statement for context.
Pelosi is not the only Democrat to slam Trump for his comments. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) attacked Trump over the reported comments.
"When all of our great-great-grandparents came to America they weren't ‘animals,' and these people aren't either," Schumer tweeted.
When all of our great-great-grandparents came to America they weren’t "animals," and these people aren’t either.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 16, 2018
"Once again, Donald Trump has revealed the malice with which he regards people unlike himself," Hoyer said in a statement.
CNBC reporter John Hardwood was quick to fact-check Trump's comments, appearing to defend MS-13 gang members as human beings.
however repugnant their actions, MS-13 gang members are human beings IMHO
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) May 17, 2018
MS-13, which is based primarily out of El Salvador but has its origins in Los Angeles, has become notorious for crimes such as rape, murder, sex trafficking, and drug trafficking.