US President Donald Trump lashed out at undocumented immigrants during a White House meeting, warning that "dangerous people" were clamouring to breach the country's borders and branded them "animals".
"We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in, we're stopping a lot of them. 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," the New York Times quoting Trump as saying on Wednesday.
This is not the first time the President has spoken in racially fraught terms about immigrants.
Trump's comments came during a discussion with state and local leaders on California's so-called sanctuary laws, which strictly limit communication between local law enforcement and federal immigration officers and which the Trump administration is suing to invalidate.
He vented about the nation's immigration laws, calling them "the dumbest laws on immigration in the world". He exhorted his administration to "do much better" in keeping out undesirable people, including members of transnational gangs like MS-13.
The local officials invited for the event took turns praising his immigration policies and lamenting California's law, arguing that it was making it more difficult for their communities to find and deport criminals.
The President's language and his focus on California drew a sharp rebuke from Jerry Brown, the state's Democratic Governor.
"Trump is lying on immigration, lying about crime and lying about the laws of California. Flying in a dozen Republican politicians to flatter him and praise his reckless policies changes nothing. We, the citizens of the fifth-largest economy in the world, are not impressed," Brown said in a statement.
During the session, Trump suggested that the Mayor of Oakland, California, should be charged with obstruction of justice for warning her constituents in February of an impending large-scale immigration raid and arrests.