'Don't Be Too Nice': Trump Seems to Back Rougher Policing in Immigration Speech

Donald Trump has appeared to advocate rougher treatment of people in police custody.


The president was promoting his hardline immigration agenda to an audience of police officers and the relatives of victims of crime in Brentwood, Long Island.

“If you’re a gang member and you’re here illegally, you’re going home,” the senior White House adviser Stephen Miller told reporters traveling to New York on Air Force One with Trump.

In his speech, however, the president spoke dismissively of arresting officers who protect suspects’ heads while putting them in police cars.

“And when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon,” he said, “you just see ’em thrown in, rough.

“I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting the head. You know? The way you put the hand over [the head], like ‘Don’t hit their head’ and they’ve just killed somebody, ‘Don’t hit their head.’

“I said, ‘You can take the hand away,’ OK?”

The president’s remarks drew cheers, laughter and applause.

Trump on handling suspected criminals: "Don't be too nice" to "thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon" https://t.co/rZyICcW4Yr

— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 28, 2017

Trump also claimed that laws were written to “protect the criminal” and “not the officers” and told his audience the “laws are stacked against you” and needed to be changed.

Trump pledged to “destroy” the international MS-13 street gang and other similar organizations, saying he was focused on MS-13 because it is “particularly violent”. 

MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, originated among El Salvadorean migrants in Los Angeles in the 1980s. The justice department has said it now has more than 10,000 members across the US.

Trump’s speech came as the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, traveled to El Salvador to highlight progress on the gang crackdown under which, civil rights groups counter, police and immigration agents have unfairly targeted some teenagers.

“We received complaints in recent weeks from terrified parents on Long Island that teens have already been detained on the thinnest of rationales, such as wearing a basketball jersey,” said Sebastian Krueger from the New York Civil Liberties Union.

There have been at least two lawsuits filed by people claiming they were mistakenly included in gang databases and then targeted for deportation, said Paromita Shah, from the National Immigration Project at the National Lawyers Guild.

The MS-13 gang has committed a string of gruesome murders in Suffolk County, New York, including the April killing of four young men. There have been 17 murders on Long Island tied to the gang since January 2016, the Suffolk County police department has said.

Trump told his audience MS-13 members did not like to shoot their victims because death came too fast, preferring instead to knife and cut their victims, so they died slowly and more painfully.

“These are animals,” he said.

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