President Donald Trump paid tribute to the agents and officials charged with protecting the borders and enforcing immigration laws Monday by expressing his gratitude for “CBC,” which is not a real agency, and complimenting an immigration agent on his “perfect English.”
During the “Salute to the Heroes” event at the White House honoring the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies, Trump invited a Border Patrol agent to speak about an operation in which he found 78 undocumented immigrants locked inside a tractor-trailer near Laredo, Texas.
“A human smuggler was arrested in Laredo for locking, and really locking, a horrible 78 illegal aliens inside of a trailer. The border patrol agent who caught the accused, and likely really saved many lives, he’s here with us, and Adrian — where’s Adrian? — Adrian’s here with us,” Trump said, scanning the crowd.
“Adrian, come here, I want to ask you a question,” said Trump, who repeatedly stumbled over the proper acronym for Customs and Border Protection throughout his speech. “You’re not nervous, are you? Speaks perfect English.”
(“It’s not the speechwriter’s fault,” Jennifer Jacobs, a reporter for Bloomberg, said on Twitter of the acronym fumble. “I’m standing next to the teleprompter Trump is reading from in the East Room and it says ‘CBP.’ But Trump has said ‘CBC’ over and over.”)
But Trump’s question for the agent was simple enough even for a novice English speaker. “How did you feel that there were people in that trailer?” the president asked. The agent stepped up to the podium, thanked Trump and briefly described the operation.
More than 15 percent of the U.S. adult population — about 35 million citizens over the age of 18 — speak a language other than English at home, according to the Washington Post. And the Los Angeles Times noted in an April report that people of Mexican descent are increasingly applying for Border Patrol jobs as the agency ramps up its hiring.
During the speech, Trump also praised the agencies for throwing suspected gang members “the hell out of our country so fast your head would spin.”
The event stoked ire from some of Trump’s critics, who saw the praise as inappropriate given the thousands of migrant children recently separated from their parents at the border, many of whom are still awaiting reunification.
“Only this White House would give medals for taking thousands of immigrant children from their parents," Tom Jawetz, vice president for immigration policy at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, told Politico.
Cover image: Adrian Anzaldua, border patrol agent, speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump listens during an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.