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Sheriffs visit Trump, praise immigration order at White House

By Doug G. Ware
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Sheriffs visit Trump, praise immigration order at White House
President Donald Trump receives a statue while meeting with a group of county sheriffs in the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday. The president discussed various issues with the sheriffs, including the U.S. murder rate and drug trafficking. Pool photo by Andrew Harrer/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A group of U.S. sheriffs met with President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss a range of topics, including violent crime and drug trafficking.

The president spoke with the sheriffs in the Roosevelt Room on Tuesday afternoon. During the gathering, he received a letter of thanks from the National Sheriffs' Association for executive orders he has signed concerning immigration.

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On Jan. 27, Trump issued his most controversial order yet -- a temporary ban on U.S. travel for refugees worldwide and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim "terror-prone" countries -- Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen.

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"Law enforcement have, in recent years, shouldered much of the burden associated with criminal illegal immigration and the subsequent impact on our communities," the letter stated, according to Politico. "Our borders are not secure and we applaud your efforts to address this threat to our public safety."

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Trump said at the meeting that the executive order could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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"We're going to take it through the system," he said. "It's very important for the country."

A federal appellate court in San Francisco is scheduled to hear oral arguments for and against the immigration order Tuesday afternoon.

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Trump sought opinions from many of the sheriffs in attendance, and at one point turned the conversation to violent crime.

"The murder rate in our country is the highest it's been in 47 years," Trump said. "I'd say that in a speech [during the campaign] and everybody was surprised."

According to the FBI, the number of murders in the United States rose 11 percent between 2014 and 2015, in what was deemed the largest one-year spike in 50 years.

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FBI numbers for 2016 are not yet available, but the Brennan Center for Justice projected a 14 percent increase in murders in 2016 in the nation's 30 largest cities, with the city of Chicago experiencing a stunning 59.4 percent increase -- its highest since the mid 1990s.

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However, the national murder rate in 2015, according to FBI statistics, was just 4.9 per 100,000 residents -- historically low and similar to rates seen in the late 1950s after the bureau first began keeping records. The all-time high, 10.2 homicides per 100,000 residents, was recorded in 1980.

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Rockwall County, Texas, Sheriff Harold Eavenson told Trump at the meeting about a state senator who is pushing legislation to require a criminal conviction for drug traffickers before law enforcement agencies can seize their assets. In response, Trump said, "Who is that state senator? I want to hear his name. We'll destroy his career."

Eavenson refused to identify the senator, but said Trump doesn't really want to destroy the lawmaker's career.

Joining Trump at Tuesday's meeting were White House advisers Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

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