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Remarks in a Meeting With Sheriffs and an Exchange With Reporters

February 11, 2019

The President. So thank you very much. I'm heading out to El Paso, Texas, right now. And we are going to do a job. We're going to continue to do what we're doing. I think we've made a lot of progress.

We've actually started a big, big portion of wall today in a very important location. And it's going to go up pretty quickly over the next 9 months. That whole area will be finished. It's fully funded. Construction, which I know a lot about, has begun. And it's a much better wall, much stronger wall, and a much less expensive wall than we've been building. And we're going to have a lot of wall being built in the last—in the next period of time.

I'm with some of the great law enforcement people. A lot of them are friends of mine. I've known them for a long time, and they've been fantastic people. Fantastic men and women. And they know what we're up against. We're up against people that want to allow criminals into our society. Now, you explain that one.

You know, most things you understand, but they want to allow criminals into our society. Convicted felons—people of tremendous—like, big problems. I just got this from Homeland Security. And you look at this—thousands of people. Dangerous drugs: 76,000 people. Then, you have traffic offenses. That's not so good, but that's—every crime. Assault: 63,000 people. Larceny: 20,000 people. Fraudulent activities: 12,000 people. Burglaries: 12,000 people. These, again, are just a different crime—robberies.

These are the people coming into our country that we are holding and we don't want in our country. And the Democrats want them to go into our country, that's why they don't want to give us what we call "the beds." It's much more complicated than beds. But we call them "the beds."

Robberies: 5,991. Sexual assaults: 6,350. Forgeries: 5,158. Stolen property: 4,462. These are people we're talking about. Kidnapping—these are people that kidnap people. The Democrats want them to come into our society. I don't think so. Anybody here who would like to have a lot of kidnappers left in our society? I don't think—I won't bother waiting for you to raise your hand, right? [Laughter] Kidnappings: 2,085. Homicides—that means murder—murderers: 2,028. I mean, it's incredible. Sexual offenses: 1,739. Just came out 2 minutes ago. Homeland Security, Department of Homeland Security. I don't know, maybe we're in a different country than I know of.

And we're going to El Paso. We have a line that is very long already. I mean, you see what's going on. And I understand our competitor has got a line too, but it's a tiny, little line. Of course, they'll make it sound like they had more people than we do. That's not going to happen.

But we're going there for a reason. We're going there to keep our country safe. And we don't want murderers and drug dealers and gang members, MS-13, and some of the worst people in the world coming into our country.

Now, Mexico has had the worst year they've ever had. Almost 40,000 killings in Mexico this year. One of the most unsafe places, unfortunately. We need a wall. And all of the other things are nice to have. But without a wall, it's not going to work. We can have technology, we can have beautiful drones flying all over the place, but it doesn't work without the wall.

Now, we need a wall. We can call it anything. We'll call it barriers. We'll call it whatever they want. But now it turns out, not only don't they want to give us money for the wall, they don't want to give us the space to detain murderers, criminals, drug dealers, human smugglers. How bad is that? Human smuggling. People think of that as an ancient art. There are more human smugglers right now—traffickers, they call them—than at any time in the history of our world, because of the internet, unfortunately.

So I'm heading out and we have a tremendous crowd. Like, tremendous. They have 75,000 people signed up. I think the arena holds like 8,000 people, unfortunately. I like the old days when I was allowed to make outdoors speeches. It was a lot easier, because you could have very big crowds, John.

But we have a tremendous crowd. We have screens on the outside of the arena, so we'll have a lot of people coming. And again, if you look at your own newscasts, you'll see people lined up for a long way. A lot of people.

Sheriff, would you like to say something?

Bristol County, MA, Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson. Well, first of all, I thank you, Mr. President——

The President. Thank you.

Sheriff Hodgson. ——for standing with law enforcement.

The President. Thank you, Sheriff.

Sheriff Hodgson. You've given us our footing back. We're very concerned about the fact that we're going to have people being released from prison that should be held. And imagine, in any American city—and the President certainly hits this—that we would say we're going to put a limit on the number of people that commit burglaries or rapes or what have you. After you reach that limit, we're going to release them back into the neighborhoods. That's what's happening. And the President is absolutely right to be standing in defense of this, in defense of the safety and security of the people of this Nation.

And we appreciate it, Mr. President. It's happening in our communities, and we appreciate the support.

The President. Horrible. It's horrible. And not even thinkable.

Please, anybody? Yes.

Vice President Michael R. Pence. Sheriff? Sheriff Louderback.

The President. Yes. Sheriff, please.

Jackson County, TX, Sheriff A.J. "Andy" Louderback. Mr. President, Vice President, members of the press: No one understands better than sheriffs in this country what's happening to us with the criminality that's coming across the border.

This is what we do. This is where we're engaged. If you do anything to cut ICE funding, you devastate our communities. You make law enforcement—one of the biggest problems that we'll have, if you were to—if ICE was to be—their funding cut, our communities would be at risk. And this is something that we cannot permit to happen in this country. We understand exactly what—these men and women in this country of law enforcement understand very well what's going on in our border. We've got to secure it. Our hats are off to the President, to the Vice President, for ensuring the safety of American public.

Thank you.

The President. Thank you, Sheriff, very much. Appreciate it. Appreciate your support. We had a couple of things interestingly happen. Everybody said: "Let us see the people on the border, the experts—Border Patrol, ICE, all of them, including law enforcement generally, including some of the people standing alongside of me—we want to see them. We want to have a meeting with them." They had the meeting. Everybody said: "You need the wall. If you don't have the wall, nothing is going work." They turned down that suggestion. You heard that. They turned it down. They said, "We don't want to hear that suggestion."

So the people came up—in some cases, they made long journeys to come up and speak before the committee. They said: "We need the wall. It's not going to work without the wall. Technology is just a part of the wall. Without a wall, it doesn't work." And they rejected their expertise. And these are the best people. We brought our best people from all over the country, and they rejected the recommendations from the experts.

So that's what we're up against. Does anybody have anything further to say? I mean, all of you folks who are with us a thousand percent.

Rockingham County, NC, Sheriff Samuel S. Page. Mr. President——

The President. Yes, please. Go ahead.

Sheriff Page. Excuse me. We've got a letter here; I'm going to give it to you. But this is a letter we presented to Congressman Mark Walker from North Carolina today to bring to our other Congressman to let him know that the 3,000 sheriffs represented by the National Sheriffs' Association opposed any reduction of those ICE beds. Because if so, it would create a dangerous threat to our communities.

And what happens at the border doesn't stay at the border. It comes to our communities in Ohio, in Maryland, in North Carolina, in Georgia, Ohio, Utah, across this country. So thank you for everything you're doing. Yes, sir.

The President. Thank you. Yes, thank you, Sheriff. Let me have that letter. I don't want to lose that letter. [Laughter]

You know, I have to say, before leaving—and again, we're going on the plane. I guess a lot of you are coming on the plane with me to El Paso. ICE is an incredible group of people. They help all of you a lot with some of the most vicious characters you meet anywhere in the world. No matter where you go, you're not going to find worse than the MS-13 gangs and some of these gangs that come over from countries that we don't even know about. And they're very disrespected by the Democrats, and we can't let that happen. They're heroes. And these people will tell you that too. They're heroes. And these people are heroes—and heroines. [Laughter]

But you—I just want to say that the people working at ICE are brave, tough, strong people that love our country. And they help the sheriffs, and they help law enforcement, and they've done an incredible job, and I really appreciate your support. And the Democrats want to cut—now, think of it: They want to cut ICE. They take out MS-13 and others by the thousands, and they want to cut ICE. So we're not going to let that happen.

Thank you all very much. I appreciate it.

Potential Federal Government Shutdown

Q. Mr. President, is there going to be a shutdown?

The President. We'll see what happens. It's up to the Democrats. It's really up to the Democrats.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:41 p.m. in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to 2018 Texas Democratic senatorial candidate former Rep. Robert F. "Beto" O'Rourke. A portion of these remarks could not be verified because the audio was incomplete.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks in a Meeting With Sheriffs and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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