President Donald Trump wanted to congratulate Border Patrol agent Adrian Anzaldua, who the president proclaimed had saved 78 lives a little over a week ago after he arrested a human smuggler.
But Trump stepped on his own message when he announced on national television that Anzaldua, whose last name the president didn’t attempt to pronounce, could speak “perfect English.”
Story Continued Below
Trump has a history of making assumptions about people based on their ethnic backgrounds, including claiming a U.S.-born judge couldn’t be impartial because of his Mexican heritage. His commentary on the language skills of a man with a Spanish-sounding last name seemed to fit that pattern.
Trump said at the event honoring members of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Custom and Border Protection that Anzaldua had caught a smuggler who was holding 78 undocumented immigrants inside a trailer, which the president called “horrible.” He praised Anzaldua for saving their lives.
“The border patrol agent who caught the accused and likely really saved many lives, he’s here with us. And Adrian, where is Adrian? Adrian is here with us,” the president said. “Thank you, Adrian. Great job. Thank you. It’s a lot of lives.”
The president then invited Anzaldua to the podium to describe the incident.
“Come here, you’re not nervous, right? Speaks perfect English,” Trump said to Anzaldua.
“Come here, I want to ask you about that, 78 lives. You saved 78 people,” Trump continued. “So how did you feel that there were people in that trailer? There’s a lot of trailers around. Please.”
Anzaldua, who wore a giant smile as he stood next to the president, said the trailer was flagged after the vehicle eluded a checkpoint in Texas.
Anzaldua said after the vehicle was stopped, he ran out with a patrol canine and conducted a non-intrusive search of the vehicle.
“I opened the little latch of the back of the tractor trailer and revealed a lot of subjects,” Anzaldua said. “I quickly asked for backup, and backup got there, and the subjects were transported back to…the checkpoint, and all of them were in good health.”
Trump seemed pleased with Anzaldua’s retelling of the encounter.
“What a good job he did. What a good job,” he said. “Tomorrow he will be announcing that he’s running for office.”
Trump has been criticized over his immigration policies, including a “zero tolerance” approach toward people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border that resulted in thousands of parents and children being separated. While the administration has taken steps to reunite families, there are still about 550 children who were separated from their parents in custody with the Department of Health and Human Services.