Donald Trump is facing more allegations of racism after he praised a border patrol agent and dog handler from Texas for being someone who “speaks perfect English.”
The president, 72, was speaking at a White House event honoring employees of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection on Monday when he made the remark.
He was addressing Adrian Anzaldua, who days prior had arrested a human smuggler in Laredo, Texas, for bringing 78 undocumented immigrants into the United States while locked inside a trailer, according to the New York Times. Anzaldua is Hispanic-American, the Times reported.
“The border patrol agent who caught the accused and saved many lives is here with us,” Trump said, in video of the event provided by Time. “Thank you Adrian. Great job. That’s a lot of lives!”
Trump then called the agent to the podium for an unplanned speech, telling the crowd unprompted that Anzaldua “speaks perfect English.”
“You’re not nervous,” Trump said before shaking Anzaldua’s hand. “78 lives, you saved 78 people.”
For his part, Anzaldua did not seem bothered by Trump’s remark — though many watching clips of the incident on social media were.
“Even when Trump is attempting to compliment someone, his overt racism just oozes out,” wrote one user on Twitter.
“The blatant racism of this administration is non-stop,” tweeted another. “It keeps on coming. Trump is trying to use minority federal agents to show he’s not racist, and then insults the Latino agent with his ‘perfect English’ remark. Unbelievable.”
The White House did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, but it’s not the first time the president has come under fire for racially insensitive comments he’s made.
The former Celebrity Apprentice host ran his 2016 presidential campaign on a tough stance on immigration, denouncing Mexicans. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he said.
Recently, longtime rumors that outtakes exist of Trump using the N-word during his time on the NBC reality show bubbled up again, when former Apprentice-contestant-turned-Trump-staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman said that she’s heard the recording.
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Trump responded to the accusations by tweeting that Apprentice executive producer Mark Burnett allegedly said that the tapes do not exist: “.@MarkBurnettTV called to say that there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa. I don’t have that word in my vocabulary, and never have. She made it up.”
He also called Manigault Newman “a dog” — a slur White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders clarified later had “nothing to do with race and everything to do with the president calling out someone’s lack of integrity.”
But when asked point blank if she could guarantee that the American public would “never hear Donald Trump utter the N-word on a recording in any context,” Huckabee Sanders said she couldn’t guarantee that.
“I can tell you I’ve never heard it,” she said.