WASHINGTON (CNN) - (05/16/18) - President Donald Trump blamed Democrats for immigration laws that force federal immigration agents to break up families during a roundtable to discuss California sanctuary state policies.
"I know what you're going through right now with families is very tough. But those are the bad laws the Democrats gave us," Trump said during the meeting with California officials.
Earlier in May, CNN reported on a new Department of Homeland Security policy that would potentially result in the separation of families at the border.
"Instead of coming together to work something out you're making it worse. I mean, we've already had - speaking in Flint - parents being picked up from stores right outside their homes," said Juani Olivares, CEO of the Genesee County Hispanic/Latino Collaborative.
"We have to break up families," Trump said on Wednesday. "The Democrats gave us that law. It's a horrible thing, we have to break up families. That Democrats gave us that law and they don't want to do anything about it."
The policy that was enacted by DHS would not apply to asylum seekers who come to an official port of entry to the US without paperwork -- those individuals would only be placed into immigration proceedings.
But by referring immigrants caught illegally crossing for criminal charges, the move means adults coming across the border with children will be separated from those children as they await their criminal proceedings.
"That's not okay. I can't even imagine the child being in the military base just because of a situation they have to run away from," said Olivares.
Trump also called members of MS-13 and other undocumented immigrants who are deported for committing crimes "animals."
"We have people coming into the country or trying to come in -- we're stopping a lot of them -- but we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are," Trump said. "These aren't people, these are animals. And we're taking them out of the country at a level, at a rate, that's never happened before and because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get 'em, we release 'em, we get 'em again, we bring 'em out. It's crazy."
Olivares estimates that in the last few months, some 20 mothers, fathers and siblings have been deported from Genesee County.