An estimated 13,000 young people are being held at immigrant youth detention centers around the U.S.—trapped in a shadowy world that evokes the penal practices of Communist-era authoritarian governments like East Germany, according to attorneys and youth advocates.
Gangs like MS-13 are increasingly portrayed as threats to U.S. national security. But they are also the product of U.S. policies that deport criminal offenders back to Central America, where they have fueled the violence that has sent many refugees fleeing north, say two researchers.
The gang is trying to leverage local franchises into a cohesive, national brand. One expert cautions that, “they are just too violent. As other gangs have discovered, newsworthy violence is bad for business.”
Recent court orders prohibiting police in California from enforcing gang injunctions are prompting law enforcement leaders to rethink how they use a tool that for decades was considered a critical weapon in the war on gangs.
President Trump says MS-13 is a threat to communities all over the nation. MS-13 is not a large street gang. According to Justice Department data, it has some 10,000 members here — half the size of the Bloods and one-fifth the size of the 18th Street Gang (or Barrio 18), MS-13’s archenemy.
While President Trump condemns illegal immigrants who come into the US as “gang members” and “criminals,” statistics show that only 0.09 percent of illegal immigrant detainees come from Central American gangs, according to AP. Instead, it’s often people fleeing gangs who are trying to get into the United States.
Chief of Detectives Dermot F. Shea revealed at a city council hearing that the 17,000 individuals named in the NYPD’s gang registry are nearly entirely non-white, including 65 percent African Americans, 24 percent non-white Hispanics, and 10 percent black Hispanics.
President Trump said the U.S. is taking MS-13 gang members out of the country by the thousands, but that is impossible, the New York Times reports. Trump made several other incorrect statements on criminal justice issues this week.
Unlike their counterparts in Central America, some MS-13 cliques in the U.S. now allow female members. the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has begun instructing its agents to scrutinize girls and young women as closely as males for MS-13 involvement.