The State Department issued a rare public denunciation after Trump tried to blame America's drug problems on undocumented immigrants from Central America and Mexico.

Just two days after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Latin America on a trip meant to improve relations with our neighbors to the south, the State Department was forced to go into cleanup mode after Donald Trump made disparaging remarks about the region and attempted to blame America’s drug problem on undocumented immigrants from countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.

Speaking at the Customs and Border Protection National Training Center in Virginia on Friday, Trump threatened to cut off aid to the countries that he blames for the flow of drugs into the United States, saying, “These countries are not our friends, you know.”

“I want to stop the aid. If they can’t stop drugs from coming in, ‘cause they can stop them a lot easier than us. They say, ‘oh we can’t control it.’ Oh great, we’re supposed to control it,” Trump said, according to CNN. “So we give them billions and billions of dollars, and they don’t do what they’re supposed to be doing, and they know that. But we’re going to take a very harsh action.”

But Trump didn’t stop with his threat to punish entire populations for the actions of criminal elements. Continuing his remarks, he then tried to link drug trafficking to all undocumented immigrants from Central America and Mexico in an attempt to justify his backwards approach to border control and security.

“We want strong borders. We want to give you laws. We want to stop the catch and release nonsense that goes on. You catch somebody and you release them. You know they’re bad,” Trump said. “They’re pouring in from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, all over. They’re just pouring into our country.”

“These countries are not our friends, you know. We think they’re our friends, and we send them massive aid, and I won’t mention names right now,” he said, immediately after mentioning their names. “But I look at these countries, I look at the numbers we send them, we send them massive aid and they’re pouring drugs into our country and they’re laughing at us.”

No one is laughing — especially not the diplomats charged with improving America’s relations with the countries Trump just disparaged.

“The president’s comments were not helpful,” said a senior State Department official traveling with Tillerson, in a rare public statement acknowledging the rift between Trump and his secretary of state.

His remarks are not just unhelpful — they’re patently false and fueled by bigotry.  

In reality, many of those who make the perilous journey to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America are children and families with children. The number of Central American children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally has been ticking up since April 2017, and it’s not because kids are trafficking drugs.

According to the Pew Charitable Trust, a significant number of the children and families coming to the U.S. from Central America are being driven by “fears of gang violence at home — fears that outweigh heightened concerns about deportation under the Trump administration.” But Trump thinks these children are “bad” and deserve to be punished by “very harsh action.”

Trump’s comments on Friday — and the subsequent denunciation of those comments by the State Department — are just the latest example of Trump’s reckless bluster undermining American diplomacy. Last year, as Tillerson traveled home from critical talks with Chinese officials about working together to handle the nuclear threat in North Korea, Trump publicly told Tillerson in a tweet to “stop wasting your time” with diplomacy.

This blunder comes on the heels of a statement in which he referred to African nations as “shithole countries” — a comment that drew international condemnation and resulted in the U.S. being left out of a historic trade deal.

Since taking office, Trump’s embrace of bigotry and incompetence has cost the U.S. an estimated $4.6 billion and 40,000 jobs due to lost tourism alone — but the damage to America’s reputation is immeasurable.