Trump Says ICE Agents Are 'Warriors': 'Who Would Do That Job?'

President Donald Trump had high praise for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a speech at a police chiefs conference in Chicago on Monday, championing federal immigration agents as "warriors."

Speaking at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference and Exposition, Trump made the comments while appearing to criticize local law enforcement departments for refusing to work with ICE.

After asserting that last year in Illinois, local officials had blocked ICE detainers for immigrants responsible for "hundreds" of offenses—"including homicide, trafficking deadly drugs, trafficking humans, robbery, and sexual assault," Trump praised ICE agents for arresting an MS-13 gang member who local officials had previously "refused to hand over."

"This man went on to murder a 16-year-old boy with a baseball bat, who didn't do anything," the U.S. leader later said. "He was a young child who was on his way to a beautiful future. He didn't do anything. He murdered him with a bat."

Praising ICE agents for taking the MS-13 member into custody, Trump said: "They're heroes. They're patriots."

"They're tough. They're strong. They're great," he said to a round of applause.

The president then appeared to question why anyone would apply to be an ICE agent, asking: "Who would do that job? Who would do that job?"

"These are warriors. And they love our country, by the way," he said.

Trump also raised the death of California Police Officer Ronil Singh, who was fatally shot on December 26, 2018 after pulling a driver over on suspicion of driving under the influence. The suspected killer in the case, Trump noted, is an undocumented immigrant.

"America grieved when California Police Officer Ronil Singh was murdered by a criminal alien—a known gang member, a tough guy with two prior arrests for bad things—who was released due to sanctuary city laws," Trump said.

"Not one more American life should be stolen from us because a politician puts criminal aliens before American citizens," the U.S. leader said to applause.

The president then appeared to hit out at Democrats, without actually naming them, asserting: "They want open borders. 'Everybody, come in. Come on in.' They want open borders, and they want sanctuary cities. Forget politics, but you tell me that's good politics? I don't think so. I think you'll find that out."

To drive home his point, the U.S. leader later invited ICE Acting Director Matthew Albence up on stage, unaware that the ICE chief had prepared a speech for the event.

After Albence delivered a speech admonishing local law enforcement departments that refuse to work for ICE, Trump said: "Honestly, I didn't know he was going to make a speech, when I invited him up, but that's okay."

Both Trump and Albence have frequently struck out at cities and local law enforcement departments that have refused to cooperate with ICE.

Despite growing pressure from the Trump administration, however, local law enforcement bodies are not required to honor ICE's immigration detainers.

President Donald Trump addresses the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention on October 28, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. The U.S. leader praised ICE agents, calling them "heroes" and "warriors" during his speech. Scott Olsen/Getty