President Trump on Wednesday used an annual event that honors slain law enforcement officers to highlight the case of a Northern California police corporal allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant and to call on Congress to toughen immigration laws.
“Not one more life should be lost because our lawmakers fail to secure our borders,” Trump said in remarks at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service on Capitol Hill.
The president contended that the United States has “a corrupt and broken system that can be changed in 20 minutes” and called for several policy changes, as well as construction of his long-promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump’s address at the event, which was attended by senior lawmakers from both parties, came as he prepares to unveil an immigration plan developed by his son-and-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner.
Congress has struggled to reach a compromise on immigration that would address the 11 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally. Lawmakers have repeatedly failed as the president has embraced a hard-line position.
In his remarks, Trump highlighted the slaying of Cpl. Ronil Singh of the Newman, Calif., Police Department during a traffic stop in December. The man charged in the case is an undocumented immigrant who authorities say crossed into Arizona from Mexico a couple of years ago and had been working as a farm laborer in California’s Central Valley.
Trump said Singh’s “vicious killer” could have been kept out of the country by a border wall or “whatever the hell it takes.”
“People are trying to come into our country because our country’s doing well,” Trump said. “They can’t come in like this killer came in.”
Trump invited Singh’s brother and wife to speak to the crowd and relayed that he had invited them to the White House, where they took pictures in the Oval Office.
During his remarks, Trump also called for the swift execution of people who kill police officers.
“The trial should go fast,” he said. “It’s got to be fair, but it’s got to go fast.”
Trump has repeatedly called for the death penalty for anyone who kills a police officer. In many states as well as in federal cases, killing a law enforcement officer is already on the books as an aggravating factor that can warrant a death sentence.
Trump’s appearance Wednesday was his third at the annual event, which honors law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
“Your loved ones were extraordinary and selfless Americans,” he said at the outset of his remarks. “They embodied our highest ideals, our greatest aspirations.”
Mark Berman and Rachael Bade contributed to this report.