President Donald Trump is doubling down on his inflammatory rhetoric concerning undocumented immigrants. Trump depicted who he claims to be gang members of MS-13 as an “infestation” of pests coming across United States borders.
The president tweeted: “When we have an ‘infestation’ of MS-13 GANGS in certain parts of our country, who do we send to get them out ICE! They are tougher and smarter than these rough criminal (elements) that bad immigration laws allow into our country. Dems do not appreciate the great job they do!”
Per usual, the president shifted blame to the Democrats, further tweeting, “Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13.” That claim, like most others the commander in chief has posed in the last 18 months, is backed by no facts.
The 30,000-member MS-13 formed in Los Angeles but really gained momentum when the U.S. did a major deportation. The gang really came to life once its members were back in Central America. In 2012, the Obama administration made an unprecedented move to label the gang as a transnational criminal organization, the first such classification for a street gang.
How much it has grown since it infiltrated the U.S. has yet to be determined, but it is estimated that the gang has grown by roughly 6,000 members since 2012. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released the results of its annual anti-gang operation. Out of roughly 1,300 gang members arrested nationwide, only 104 were linked to MS-13, but only 8 of them were documented immigrants or U.S. citizens.
They have accounted for same number of arrests as the Crips, even though the gang makes up less than one percent of the total gang presence in the United States. This is a far cry from Trump’s prior statements that “MS-13, likewise, a horrible, horrible large group of gangs that have been let into country over a fairly short period of time are being decimated by the Border Patrol and by ICE and by our incredible local police forces and they are getting out of our country or in some cases, going directly into prisons throughout our country, but they’ve literally taken over towns and cities of the United States.”
The president has made it a priority to destroy the gang, with Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III calling it “one of the gravest threats to American public safety.”