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President Donald Trump (l) listens to Border Patrol agent Adrian Anzaldua (r) on Aug. 20, 2018, at a White House ceremony honoring U.S. immigration authorities and agents where the president called ICE and Border Patrol agents "heroes." EFE-EPA/Jim Lo…

Trump calls U.S. immigration agents heroes amid criticism

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President Donald Trump on Monday praised the work of U.S. immigration authorities and agents, whom he called "heroes" in the face of criticism over the past few months from immigrant rights defense groups and certain Democratic politicians.

"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 at the White House event to honor the immigration authorities.

"The extremists who attack ICE and (CBP) 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," Trump asserted, referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as Customs and Border Protection.

Trump said that without the efforts of ICE and CBP "we wouldn't have a country."

The president congratulated one by one about 20 of the officials attending the Salute to the Heroes event, including Vice President Mike Pence, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and several Border Patrol and immigration agents for their "dedication" to national security.

Trump also emphasized the importance of the immigration agencies in combating the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang, drug cartels and other transnational criminal organizations, an argument he has used ever since his 2016 presidential campaign.

The president said that the organizations and Democratic politicians pushing the "#AbolishICE" campaign desire "anarchy" along the U.S.-Mexico border.

He also demanded that local and state leaders publicly express their support for the immigration agencies.

In recent months, numerous civil rights organizations and political leaders, including Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, have led a movement calling for the closure of the agency and the transfer of its duties to outside government agencies.

In addition to calling for support for immigration agencies, Trump once again insisted on building an even longer, higher and stronger wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
       

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