America’s Gang Crisis: Congressional Hearings Focus on MS-13

Michael Cutler, Frontpage Mag, June 28, 2017

MS-13 Tattoos

Credit Image: © Xinhua/ZUMA Press

Failures of the immigration system are, once again, behind headline-making news reports. Last week two Congressional hearings were conducted into what has become America’s most pernicious and violent transnational gang, MS-13 that now operates in some 40 states.

I am very familiar with MS-13, I began investigating them nearly 25 years ago early into my assignment at the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force following my promotion to INS Senior Special Agent.

Back then the number of the members of MS-13 in New York was small, consequently and the impact they had was also relatively small.

The immigration policies of the Clinton and Bush administrations certainly did not help law enforcement.  However, the greatest influx of MS-13 gang members is directly related to the flood of Unaccompanied Minors from Central America during the latter part of the Obama administration.

On April 28, 2017 Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at the federal building in Central Islip where the Congressional field hearing would be held nearly two months later.  His speech, and his message, was reported by CBS news, Attorney General Sessions To Gangs: ‘We Are Targeting You.’

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Credit Image: © Yuri Gripas/Reuters via ZUMA Press)

Yet the enforcement of our immigration laws by the Trump administration and by Attorney General Sessions has been frequently attacked by the media and by politicians, especially the “leaders” of Sanctuary Cities.

On June 20, 2017 the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence conducted a filed hearing on Long Island in Central Islip, New York, on the topic,  Combating Gang Violence On Long Island: Shutting Down The MS-13 Pipeline.

That “pipeline” crosses the U.S./Mexican border and is operated by members of drug cartels and transnational gangs.

It is important to read the prepared testimony of Subcommittee Chairman Peter King who focused on how the flood of unaccompanied minors from Central America flooded America with young and violent gang members who are now recruiting more gang members in our schools.

Here is the brief description of that hearing, and its predication, as posted on the official Congressional website:

This field hearing will examine the threat posed by transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), particularly Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13) and the extent to which this violent gang is able to circumvent border security measures to gain entry into the U.S.  Since January 2016, there have been 17 murders linked to MS-13 in Suffolk County alone. The hearing will feature testimony from the stakeholders related to the interaction and cooperation between Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies to combat MS-13. Additionally, testimony will be provided by community members directly impacted by these TCOs. The two panels reflect the broad cross section of the community required to respond to the threat posed by MS-13 and other TCOs on Long Island and across the nation.

The very next day, on June 21, 2017 the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on “The MS-13 Problem: Investigating Gang Membership, its Nexus to Illegal Immigration, and Federal Efforts to End the Threat.”

MS-13 Gang Members Hand Signs

Credit Image: © Roberto Escobar/EFE/ZUMAPRESS.com

It is important to read the Judiciary Committee Chairman, Senator Chuck Grassley’s statement for that hearing and watch the video.

Here is an excerpt from Chairman Grassley’s statement:

This organization has been dubbed the world’s “most dangerous gang,” and some say it could be a terrorist organization. But, you wouldn’t expect anything less from a group whose motto is “kill, rape, and control.”

Unfortunately, over the past two years, this terrifying motto has become a vicious reality for many communities across our nation. So far this year, the gang has been publicly linked to dozens of high-profile killings, rapes, and assaults across the country, from the Washington D.C. metro area to Houston, Texas.

Undoubtedly, there are many more that simply haven’t been reported.

The mainstream media that reported on these hearings all but avoided mentioning that multiple failures of the immigration system have enabled these violent criminals to enter the United States and that Border Security Is National Security.

The “journalists” also blithely ignore that Sanctuary Cities: Where Hypocrisy Rules, often harbor and shield criminal aliens from detection by immigration law enforcement personnel.

In point of fact, Opponents of Border Security and Immigration Law Enforcement Aid Human Traffickers.  The most effective way to attack the human smugglers, who facilitate the entry of transnational gang members such as MS-13 is to have ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents work closely with local police and other law enforcement agencies to gain access to smuggled aliens who could then provide actionable intelligence to enable ICE and the Border Patrol to identify, locate and ultimately arrest human traffickers and dismantle their operations.

Shielding illegal aliens from detection by ICE also shields gang members and smugglers.  It is nearly impossible to identify human traffickers without interviewing the aliens whom they smuggled into the United States.

Illegal aliens who cooperate with law enforcement authorities can be granted visas that enable them to remain in the United States and legally work- to encourage such individuals to come forward without fear.

MS-13 graffiti

MS-13 graffiti. (Credit Image: © Luis Galdamez/EFE/ZUMAPRESS.com)

As an INS special agent my law enforcement colleagues, on the local, state of federal level, often told me that the granting of such visas to illegal aliens provided far more important intelligence that could any other incentive.

If mayors of Sanctuary Cities were truly concerned about doing what is compassionate, they should issue public service announcements, urging illegal aliens to come forward if they have significant information that could aid ICE agents in identifying and ultimately arresting criminals including human traffickers living in their communities to safeguard those who live in those ethnic immigrant communities, where these transnational criminals live and ply their “trades.”

This would simply be an extension of “If you see something, say something.”  (If you know something say something!)

Those mayors should require their respective police departments to work closely with ICE agents rather than prevent them from working with those agents.

Yet this fact is utterly ignored by the media and by many politicians.  In fact the media often portray mayors of “Sanctuary Cities” as heroes who shield illegal aliens from immigration agents who, according to the narrative, are the “bad guys.”

There is an additional price to be paid for this false and dangerous narrative, as reported on June 19, 2017, Citing Uptick in Attacks, Senators Request Better Protection for ICE Officers.

Here is an expert from that report that appeared in Government Executive:

According to ICE, there have been 19 recorded assaults on ICE personnel in 2017 through May 22, compared to 24 incidents in all of 2016. (Senators) Johnson and McCaskill also requested data since 2010, what DHS and ICE have done already to protect employees, and whether assailants have been prosecuted.

Thomas Homan, ICE’s acting director, at a congressional hearing last week blamed the media and immigrant groups for putting officers at risk by promoting false or misleading reports about the nature of their jobs. His employees, Homan said, have been “unfairly vilified for simply trying to do their jobs.”

“People have the right to protest, but ICE officers also have rights,” Homan told a House Appropriations Committee panel. “They have a right to enforce the law safely and return to their families at the end of the day.”

Homan promoted the controversial practice of making immigration arrests at courthouses, noting it helped with safety for his officers because they could be certain the detainees did not have any weapons on them. He decried as untrue any reports that ICE employees were making arrests at schools or hospitals. ICE officers, he said, should be celebrated for keeping communities safe rather than depicted as inhumane or callous.

As to the supposedly “controversial practice of making immigration arrests in courthouses,” arrest operations are inherently dangerous.  Individuals, especially those who face severe consequences for their crimes, can become extremely violent in an effort to evade law enforcement.  Sociopathic criminals including those who are addicted to narcotics, may react irrationally when confronted by law enforcement.

Generally everyone entering a courthouse is carefully screened for weapons.

A courthouse is often the best place to take a defendant into custody.  I speak from many years of experience.

MS-13 member shows off his gang tattoos in front of a wall covered in gang graffiti.

MS-13 member shows off his gang tattoos in front of a wall covered in gang graffiti. (Credit Image: © Luis J. Jimenez/ZUMA Press)

It is particularly ironic and, indeed, vexing that there are judges and lawyers (who are “officers of the court”) who oppose federal law enforcement officers executing lawfully issued warrants in a building dedicated to the Constitution and to the principles of the rule of law and justice.

Furthermore, when an arrest goes badly on the street or a building, and a gunfight ensues, innocent civilians as well as agents and the defendant, are placed in extreme mortal danger.

No rational, reasonable or compassionate person would rather risk innocent lives rather than facilitate the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws that have absolutely nothing to do with race, religion, ethnicity, but have everything to do with public safety, national security and the well being of America and Americans.

Considering the foregoing, I am compelled to remind you that the ENLIST Act (H.R. 60) would undermine national security and public safety, providing gang members with access to military training and military bases.  When “Compassion” Endangers National SecurityThe landmines of illegal aliens entering military service.

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