Trump invited 'permanently separated' families to speak about loved ones allegedly killed by unauthorized immigrants — and he autographed posters of the victims' faces

 

  • President Donald Trump invited families at an event on Friday to share stories of their loved ones allegedly killed by unauthorized immigrants.
  • These families, Trump said, were "permanently separated."
  • His administration has been under fire for weeks over its recently halted practice of splitting up migrant families at the border.Trump autographed posters of the victims' faces.

President Donald Trump spoke Friday at an event with families he said had been "permanently separated" from loved ones who were allegedly killed at the hands of unauthorized immigrants.

His remarks came in the wake of nationwide outrage over the Trump administration's recently halted practice of separating migrant families at the border. More than 2,300 children were split from their parents since May, and stories of traumatized children and desperate parents have been highlighted by the national media for weeks.

But one by one, Trump brought up family members to speak at a podium before an audience of law-enforcement officers. Each family member held large posters of their loved ones' faces, which Trump had autographed.

Trump accused the media of ignoring the families of victims killed by unauthorized immigrants, and instead focusing on the migrant families who had in many cases illegally crossed the US-Mexico border to seek asylum.

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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
Raymondville, UNITED STATES: A futuristic USD 65 million tent city designed to hold about 2,000 illegal immigrants is pictured 10 April 2006 in Raymondville, Texas. The newly-constructed barbed-wire enclosed camp in the Rio Grande Valley will hold illegal immigrants for weeks to years until they can be returned to their home countires by US officials. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. Picture taken June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The inside of a dormitory at the Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, walk in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents by the Department of Homeland Security next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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"You hear the other side, but you never hear this side. You don't know what's going on," Trump said. "These are the stories that Democrats and people that are weak on immigration, they don't want to discuss, they don't want to hear, they don't want to see, they don't want to talk about."

One mother, Laura Wilkerson, told the audience about her 18-year-old son Josh, who she said was brutally tortured and beaten to death, then set on fire in 2010.

Hermilo Moralez, who was 19 at the time of the murder, is a Belize national who was living in the US illegally. He is now serving a life sentence in prison after admitting to the killing, according to The Houston Chronicle.

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Trump supporters and border activists in California
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Trump supporters and border activists in California
U.S. President Donald Trump's supporters, like Merilyn Cashman of Dana Point, CA, rally near the US-Mexico border for the presidential visit to California to view border wall prototypes in San Diego, California, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/John Gastaldo
SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 13: A man wears a shirt mocking CNN as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump rally for the President during his visit to see the controversial border wall prototypes on March 13, 2018 in San Diego, California. The border visit is part of the first visit to California by the President Trump since taking office despite criticism for not visiting the state after the record firestorms and a deadly debris flow in 2017. It also comes as a clash between the administration and state officials heats up with lawsuits on both sides concerning several issues, including immigrant protection and the possible deportation of Dreamers. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Trump supporters gather as U.S. President Donald Trump's motorcade drives past following his viewing of border wall prototypes in San Diego, California, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
U.S. President Trump's supporter Cherie Wood of Chino Hills, CA looks skyward with binoculars trying to spot the president?s aircraft as Trump arrived close to her location during his visit to view border wall prototypes in San Diego, California, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/John Gastaldo
SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 13: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump sing the National Anthem as they rally for the president during his visit to see the controversial border wall prototypes on March 13, 2018 in San Diego, California. The border visit is part of the first visit to California by the President since taking office despite criticism for not visiting the state after the record firestorms and a deadly debris flow in 2017. It also comes as a clash between the administration and state officials heats up with lawsuits on both sides concerning several issues, including immigrant protection and the possible deportation of Dreamers. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump's supporters rally near the US-Mexico border for the presidential visit to California to view border wall prototypes in San Diego, California, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/John Gastaldo
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 13: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump rally for the president during his visit to see the controversial border wall prototypes on March 13, 2018 in San Diego, California. The border visit is part of the first visit to California by President Trump since taking office despite criticism for not visiting the state after the record firestorms and a deadly debris flow in 2017. It also comes as a clash between the administration and state officials heats up with lawsuits on both sides concerning several issues, including immigrant protection and the possible deportation of Dreamers. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump's supporters wave to the presidential motorcade as it heads to Brown Field during the Trump's visit to California to view border wall prototypes in San Diego, California, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/John Gastaldo
Trump supporters hug after U.S. President Donald Trump's motorcade drove past them following his viewing of border wall prototypes in San Diego, California, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Activists and supporters gather await the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump to during his visit to view border wall prototypes in San Diego, California, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Trump supporters wear stars and stripes suits during a pro-Trump rally attended by about 500 people in San Diego, California, March 13, 2017, where President Trump was visiting the nearby border wall protoypes. / AFP PHOTO / Bill Wechter (Photo credit should read BILL WECHTER/AFP/Getty Images)
A large police presence watches over protesters and supporters during the visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to view border wall prototypes in San Diego, California, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 13: Trump supporters John and Diana Turano, from La Puente, wait across the street from the Intercontinental Hotel where President Trump will spend the night in downtown Los Angeles on March 13, 2018. The Turano's waited in the rain hoping to get a glimpse of the President when he arrives. (Photo by Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Trump supporter Cherie Wood displays a pro-Trump sign during a pro-Trump rally attended by about 500 people in San Diego, California, March 13, 2017, where President Trump was visiting the nearby border wall protoypes. / AFP PHOTO / Bill Wechter (Photo credit should read BILL WECHTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporter Humbert Cabrera displays a pro-Trump sign during a pro-Trump rally attended by about 500 people in San Diego, California, March 13, 2017, where President Trump was visiting the nearby border wall protoypes. / AFP PHOTO / Bill Wechter (Photo credit should read BILL WECHTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Trump supporters sing the National Anthem and display pro-Trump signs during a pro-Trump rally attended by about 500 people in San Diego, California, March 13, 2017, where President Trump was visiting the nearby border wall protoypes. / AFP PHOTO / Bill Wechter (Photo credit should read BILL WECHTER/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 13: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump rally for the president during his visit to see the controversial border wall prototypes on March 13, 2018 in San Diego, California. The border visit is part of the first visit to California by President Trump since taking office despite criticism for not visiting the state after the record firestorms and a deadly debris flow in 2017. It also comes as a clash between the administration and state officials heats up with lawsuits on both sides concerning several issues, including immigrant protection and the possible deportation of Dreamers. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 13: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump rally for the president during his visit to see the controversial border wall prototypes on March 13, 2018 in San Diego, California. The border visit is part of the first visit to California by President Trump since taking office despite criticism for not visiting the state after the record firestorms and a deadly debris flow in 2017. It also comes as a clash between the administration and state officials heats up with lawsuits on both sides concerning several issues, including immigrant protection and the possible deportation of Dreamers. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 13: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump rally for the president during his visit to see the controversial border wall prototypes on March 13, 2018 in San Diego, California. The border visit is part of the first visit to California by President Trump since taking office despite criticism for not visiting the state after the record firestorms and a deadly debris flow in 2017. It also comes as a clash between the administration and state officials heats up with lawsuits on both sides concerning several issues, including immigrant protection and the possible deportation of Dreamers. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 13: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump rally for the president during his visit to see the controversial border wall prototypes on March 13, 2018 in San Diego, California. The border visit is part of the first visit to California by President Trump since taking office despite criticism for not visiting the state after the record firestorms and a deadly debris flow in 2017. It also comes as a clash between the administration and state officials heats up with lawsuits on both sides concerning several issues, including immigrant protection and the possible deportation of Dreamers. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 13: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump sing the National Anthem as they rally for the President during his visit to see the controversial border wall prototypes on March 13, 2018 in San Diego, California. The border visit is part of the first visit to California by President Trump since taking office despite criticism for not visiting the state after the record firestorms and a deadly debris flow in 2017. It also comes as a clash between the administration and state officials heats up with lawsuits on both sides concerning several issues, including immigrant protection and the possible deportation of Dreamers. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Trump supporters display pro-Trump signs during a pro-Trump rally attended by about 500 people in San Diego, California, March 13, 2017, where President Trump was visiting the nearby border wall protoypes. / AFP PHOTO / Bill Wechter (Photo credit should read BILL WECHTER/AFP/Getty Images)
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'We weren't lucky enough to be separated for five days'

Trump has frequently used parents such as Laura Wilkerson to bolster his arguments for a border wall and against so-called "sanctuary cities," where law-enforcement agencies limit their cooperation with immigration authorities.

But on Thursday, Trump appeared to draw a connection between the families he brought on stage, and those his administration forcibly separated, which he implied were temporary.

"These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones, the word 'permanently' being the word that you have to think about," Trump said. "They're not separated for a day or two days; they're permanently separated because they were killed by criminal illegal aliens."

Though Trump has said he intends to reunite the separated migrant families, lawyers and experts have pointed out that reunification may be impossible for some.

Children who were transferred into government custody were flown to shelters and foster-care families across the country, while some parents were deported back to their home countries alone. Meanwhile, the government agencies in charge of the families have not clarified a system for reunification, and the process has been bogged down with chaos and red tape.

But many of the parents at Friday's event, including Wilkerson, echoed Trump's remarks, suggesting that the migrant families would be reunited within days.

"None of our kids had a minute to say goodbye — we weren't lucky enough to be separated for five days or 10 days. We're separated permanently," she said. "Anytime we want to see or be close to our kids, we go to the cemetery because that's where they are."

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