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Published: Thursday, February 23, 2017 @ 8:56 AM
Two days after rolling out brand new guidelines for deporting people who are illegally in the United States, President Trump vowed on Thursday to follow through on his promise to more strictly enforce existing immigration laws, starting with those immigrants who have committed crimes in the U.S., though a top Trump Cabinet member denied there would be any "mass deportations."
"We're getting really bad dudes out of this country, at a rate that nobody has ever seen before," Mr. Trump told a group of manufacturing CEO's at the White House.
"And they're the bad ones," the President added.
Mr. Trump referred to the stepped up enforcement against illegal immigrants as a "military operation," though the President's Secretary of Homeland Security told reporters later that the military would not be used in immigration enforcement.
"There will be no - repeat no - mass deportations," said Secretary John Kelly during a visit to Mexico City.
As for the President's talk about a much higher rate of deportations, no numbers have been issued yet by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to back up that claim of increased numbers, as the White House tries to increase the tally from 2015 and 2016, which fell well below numbers from late in the Bush Administration and the first term of the Obama Administration.
The latest public figures that have been made available by federal immigration officials show 240,255 people were deported in Fiscal Year 2016 - that's well off the record number of 409,849 in Fiscal Year 2012.
"When you see gang violence," the President said, "much of that is people who are here illegally."
"They're rough and their tough, but they're not tough like our people. So we're getting them out," Mr. Trump said.
The President also had more no-nonsense words for the Mexican government.
"We're going to have a good relationship with Mexico, I hope; and if we don't - we don't," the President said, as he complained about the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico, and the state of the border.
The President's comments came as two top U.S. officials met with the Mexican Foreign Minister of Mexico, Luis Videgaray, who labeled the meeting a "key moment" for both nations.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the Mexico City sit down, "very productive," saying they had discussed a range of issues related to the border.