Reports show the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is transferring thousands of unaccompanied illegal minors, some of whom have already been identified as gang members by U.S. Border Patrol agents, to large U.S. cities that rank among the top strongholds of the American gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.
As CNSNews.com reports, a 2008 report indicates that MS-13 is one of two predominantly Latino gangs whose membership has spread from the Los Angeles area to other U.S. communities. MS-13 and the 18th Street gang (M-18), the report states, are becoming “transnational,” in that they are being established in Central America and Mexico.
The report continues: “Evidence suggests that these gangs are engaged in criminal enterprises normally associated with better organized and more sophisticated crime syndicates,” and “gang members may be involved in smuggling operations and, by extension, could potentially use their skills and criminal networks to smuggle terrorists into the United States.”
Cities listed as strongholds of MS-13 include Washington, D.C. and the surrounding Northern Virginia area, Los Angeles, Houston, New York City, Baltimore, and Nashville.
The more than 57,000 illegal unaccompanied minors who have flooded across the U.S. border from Mexico since October of last year have come from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador – all countries with strong ties to MS-13 and other Latin American gangs and crime operations.
HHS has transferred many of these illegal minors, who are waiting for their cases to be heard by an immigration judge, to shelters primarily run by non-profit groups and religious organizations.
A map published by NumbersUSA.com identifies cities in which temporary shelters have been set up for the young illegal immigrants. At least half of the top MS-13 strongholds in the U.S. are located in these cities.
U.S. Border Patrol officers have consistently reported that many of the young illegal immigrants are members of gangs such as MS-13 and have come into the United States with tattoos that identify their membership. Due to regulations in federal law, however, these gang members are treated as innocent minors.
Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, told Fox News that MS-13 members have crossed the southwest U.S. border in the recent flood of young unaccompanied illegal minors and are, in fact, using Red Cross phones at federal detention facilities to coordinate gang activity.
At the Nogales processing center in Nogales, Arizona, the Red Cross has set up a bank of phones so that unaccompanied juveniles can call family members back home or even in the U.S., and these phones are being utilized by gang members to recruit, to enlist, to pressure people and other juveniles into joining the MS-13 gang. And the problem is, we are unable to isolate these people because they are juveniles. Our hands are tied.
In June, Albert Spratte, a border patrol agent and union representative in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, told CNSNews.com some of those young illegal immigrants crossing the border may not even be minors, but border patrol agents have to process them as minors just because they claim to be under 18.
“I’ll be standing there like, ‘I know you’re not 17, you look older than that,'” Spratte explained. “But without documentation, I can’t prove that. I have to treat that person as a minor.”
Though the federal government has maintained that the unaccompanied illegal minors housed in shelters will not be released into the local community, CNSNews.com observes that a report by the Office of Refugee Resettlement shows the states where most of the minors are being placed with sponsors for the long term include Virginia, Maryland, New York California and Texas – the same states with the highest level of MS-13 activity.
Among the voluntary agencies listed as partners of the Office of Refugee Resettlement are the Episcopal Migration Ministries, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
As Breitbart News reported in July, the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) states in its latest annual report that it is “the largest resettlement agency in the United States.”
MRS shows a total budget of approximately $71 million, of which nearly $66 million – or about 93% – has come from federal grants and contracts.