WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump paid emotional tribute Tuesday to fallen law enforcement officers and the loved ones who carry on without them, saying those who wore the uniform "were among the bravest Americans to ever live."
"They made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live in safety and in peace," President Trump said.
President Trump made a rare showing of public empathy near the end of his speech by bringing onstage the elderly mother and other loved ones of a slain police officer from his native New York City. Officer Miosotis Familia died in July 2017 after being shot in the head by a man who authorities say fired into a parked police vehicle in the Bronx. The alleged killer of the mother of three was later fatally shot by police.
President Trump joked that he had promised not to reveal Adrianna Valoy's age, but she climbed the stairs better than he did. President Trump turns 72 next month.
"So I promised that I wouldn't tell you that she's 90 years old but, you know what, she is really something, right?" he told the audience. "You look like 55 maybe, 55. Boy, I'll tell you what. You got up those stairs better than I did."
The president, who made law and order a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, used the yearly tribute at an outdoor memorial near the Capitol to press Congress to prioritize border security. He said that includes ending policies that allow individuals he described as "violent criminals" back onto the streets.
President Trump issued the plea after speaking about Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez, who died last year from injuries suffered while he and his partner were responding to reports of unknown activity near a border town southeast of El Paso, Texas.
President Trump said government's first duty is to protect its people and that the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Border Patrol agency, is "on the front lines of this incredible, heroic fight."
"That is why we are calling on Congress to secure our borders, support our border agents, stop sanctuary cities and shut down policies that release violent criminals back into our communities," he said. "We don't want it any longer. We've had it. Enough is enough."