President Donald Trump drew the ire of many elected officials and activists on Wednesday after he called illegal immigrants “animals” during a meeting.

Trump Calls MS-13 Gang Members ‘Animals’

Trump’s incendiary comments in Washington came during a discussion with state and local leaders on California’s “sanctuary cities,” where elected officials refused to cooperate with federal officials to deport undocumented migrants. One California law prohibits local law enforcement from informing U.S. Immigrants and Customs Enforcement officials about these types of immigrants that are held in the state’s prisons. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the law in 2017.

According to Politico, the president later clarified Thursday that he was referring to MS-13 gang members as “animals.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also emphasized this in a news briefing on Thursday.

“You know I’m referring to the MS-13 gangs that are coming in. I was talking about the MS-13,” Trump said, responding to a question from a reporter. “So, I’m actually surprised that you’re asking this question because most people got it right.”

Trump has long been pushing for the infamous international crime gang — which started in Los Angeles in 1980s — to be prosecuted more vigorously. Many of the gang’s members come from Latin American countries like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

In March, reports surfaced that 24 MS-13 gang members had been arrested in a major crackdown in Long Island, the Hudson Valley and other parts of New York state.

“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country,” Trump said in his original remarks. “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.”

Many lawmakers, especially Democrats, were quick to condemn Trump’s comments.

“When all of our great-great-grandparents came to America they weren’t ‘animals,’ and these people aren’t either,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a tweet.

This is not the first time Trump has been slammed for insulting immigrants. In 2015, in announcing his candidacy for president, he called Mexican migrants “rapists,” “criminals” and “drug-dealers.”

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In January, the president referred to developing countries like El Salvador, Haiti and African nations as “s—holes” during a meeting on immigration.

Sanders said she agreed with Trump’s most recent comments in Thursday’s press briefing.

“MS-13 has done heinous acts. It took an animal to stab a man 100 times and decapitate him and rip his heart out. It took an animal to beat a woman they were sex trafficking with a bat 28 times, indenting part of her body. And it took an animal to kidnap, drug and rape a 14-year-old Houston girl,” said Sanders.

“Frankly, I think that the term ‘animal’ doesn’t go far enough, and I think the president should continue to use his platform and everything he can do under the law to stop these types of horrible, horrible, disgusting people,” she added.

Trump’s administration recently announced that it planned on separating families who cross the border into the U.S. illegally — effectively taking children away from parents — as a way to curb illegal immigration.

On Twitter, Brown responded to Trump’s comments by saying the president “is lying on immigration, lying about crime and lying about the laws.”