President Donald Trump’s hair is ruffled by a breeze as he speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 23, 2018, en route to a day trip to New York. Trump will ...

by S.A. Miller and Stephen Dinan - The Washington Times - Updated: 9:08 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Evelyn Rodriguez, the mother of a teenage girl who was savagely killed by MS-13 gang members, told President Trump on Wednesday that he was justified in calling them “animals.”

Thomas D. Homan, acting chief at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the president could have said even worse and it would have been justified.

“I think you are being kind,” he said. “Animals kill for survival. MS-13 kills for sport. They kill to terrorize.”

Mr. Homan and Ms. Rodriguez were defending Mr. Trump after his characterization last week of MS-13 as “not people, these are animals,” which ignited a ferocious backlash from congressional Democrats and immigrant rights groups who said he was un-Christian, a racist and a genocidal mass murderer.

“You are correct. They are animals in how they kill, how they get these kids, and they torture them,” an emotional Ms. Rodriguez told the president at a roundtable discussion in Long Island, New York, meant to connect the dots between a renewed surge of illegal immigration and the growing MS-13 gang problem.

The Trump administration says laws must be changed to stem the flow of MS-13 recruits from Central America — some of them crossing specifically to join the gang and others being perfect targets for recruitment once they reach the U.S.