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Trump Blames Violence In Chicago On 'Undocumented Immigrants'

By Heather Cherone | February 8, 2017 9:42am | Updated on February 8, 2017 1:05pm
 President Donald Trump on Wednesday blamed Chicago's violence on gang members who
President Donald Trump on Wednesday blamed Chicago's violence on gang members who "are not even legally in our country."
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YouTube/White House

CHICAGO — President Donald Trump on Wednesday blamed rising violence in Chicago on "undocumented immigrants," but gave no evidence to support his claim.

He vowed to work with local law enforcement to deport those immigrants. A 2015 study by the American Immigration Council found that immigrants were less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.

"We'll get them out of the country and bring them back where they came from, and we'll do it fast," the president said in a speech to police chiefs in Washington. "So much of the problems, you look at Chicago, and you look at other places, many of the problems, are caused by gang members many of whom are not even legally in our country."

Trump's remarks were the sixth time since taking office that he has slammed violence in Chicago.

“In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone,” he said. “And the rate so far this year has been even higher. What is going on in Chicago? We can not allow this to continue.”

Matt McGrath, a spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said Chicago officials have told the White House how federal officials can help.

“With all the talk and no action, you have to wonder whether the administration is serious about working with us on solutions, or if they are just using violence in this great city to score political points," McGrath said.

"We've been clear: There are ways the federal government can help, and we're happy to partner with the administration whenever they decide to stop talking and start acting," McGrath said.

Emanuel repeatedly has urged the president to fund programs like summer job efforts and to create tougher gun laws while expanding the partnerships between the Chicago Police Department and the U.S. Justice Department, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said the Police Department — which is prohibited from tracking immigration status by the department's rules as well as Chicago's Sanctuary City ordinance — has no data to support the president's claims.

"I hope the president had an opportunity today to hear from police chiefs around the country who are facing many of the same challenges Chicago is facing, including too-easy access to illegal guns, inconsistent sentencing and a more fractured and decentralized gang structure where gunfire is as likely to erupt from a feud on social media as a battle over turf," Johnson said.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said Trump's remarks were "shameful" and "not based at all on reality."

"This is him trying to get a few shots — cheap and below the belt — on Chicago," Reilly said.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35th) derided Trump's statement as another "alternative fact" pushed by the Trump administration.

"It is wrong that the President of the United States would seek to scare and divide the American people," Rosa said. "Trump continues to attack anyone that does not look like him, it’s clear at this point that Trump views anyone that does not look like him as a threat.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley said Trump's statement linking immigration and crime was his "most misguided yet."

After surging in 2016, violence in Chicago has shown no sign of slowing in the first month of 2017, with just as many shootings and murders in January 2017 as in January 2016. Despite Trump's focus on Chicago, more than a dozen American cities have a higher per capita murder rate.

“Whether a child lives in Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore or anywhere in our country, he or she has the right to grow up in safety and in peace,” the president told the Major Cities Chiefs Association’s winter conference. “No one in America should be punished because of the city where he or she is born.”

On Tuesday, during a meeting with sheriffs at the White House, Trump said violence is worse in Chicago than in "some places in the Middle East where there are wars going on."

Johnson said the Police Department was working hard to make Chicago safe, and welcomed more help from federal law enforcement agencies.

During an event earlier this month to mark the beginning of Black History Month, Trump said violence in Chicago was "totally out of control."

Since taking office 19 days ago, Trump has repeatedly put Chicago's struggle with violent crime in the national spotlight — as he often did during the presidential election. In August, Trump told Bill O'Reilly of Fox News that police could end the city's violence "in one week" if they wanted to.

Trump threatened Jan. 24 in a tweet to "send in the Feds" unless Chicago officials "fix the horrible 'carnage'" in the city.

In addition, in his first television interview from the White House, Trump likened violence in Chicago to violence in Afghanistan.

Is Chicago More Dangerous Than A 'War Zone?' Not Even Close