District officials in Washington, D.C. designated a legal defense fund aimed at benefiting illegal aliens and their families after being detained for deportation. The move comes after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stepped up operations in sanctuary cities.
The establishment of the fund was announced by D.C. Councilman David Grosso, who claimed to local news outlets that the District earmarked $500,000 for legal services to help those targeted during ICE raids.
The action by D.C. officials comes as a response to increased operations targeting illegal immigrants in jurisdictions calling themselves sanctuary cities. The term refers to the intentional lack of cooperation between local law enforcement and federal authorities for those incarcerated and in the country illegally. The stepped-up enforcement operations are being carried out in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Baltimore. During a recent raid in Washington, D.C., authorities detained 14 illegal immigrants, some of them had prior felony and misdemeanor convictions.
During his comments made to local TV stations, Grosso said the ICE raids are an assault on local communities and urged anyone affected to contact his office for legal assistance. He also claimed the $500,000 fund was an initial allotment and more should be put into the effort.
“I think if people commit criminal acts they should be held accountable for that and they should be arrested,” he said in the TV interview. “That doesn’t mean that we should treat somebody who’s undocumented different than somebody who’s here legally and who is a citizen of the United States.”
The efforts to block immigration enforcement in D.C. come while the District and surrounding areas are deeply affected by a rapid expansion of MS-13 gang members– often leading to deadly results. According to local news outlets, law enforcement agencies are seeing a spike in MS-13 murders.
In 2009, the number of MS-13 gang members operating in Northern Virginia was believed to be around 3,000, that figure has reached an estimated 5,000 recently.
The MS-13 gang or, “La Mara Salvatrucha”, as they are known on the street, are made up primarily of illegal immigrants from El Salvador, with some also coming from Honduras and Guatemala. Gang experts consulted by Breitbart Texas believe the resurgence was fueled in part by the recent border surges that overwhelmed the detention capabilities of immigration authorities and set off a humanitarian crisis. One of the hot topics during that time was the increased number of underage illegal aliens arriving alone, referred to as unaccompanied minors.
In some cases, the minors were already influenced by the organization, arriving with a gang mentality. The phenomenon occurs with children born into multigenerational gangs; they tend to gravitate to each other because of cultural and language reasons–knowing no other lifestyle.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)