Federal records reveal that one-third of MS-13 gang members arrested by law enforcement in recent weeks could have been classified as Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) when they entered the U.S. illegally. During FY 2017, more than 40,000 UACs were resettled across the country.
Since the surge of UACs was first reported by Breitbart Texas Editor-in-Chief Brandon Darby in June 2014, MS-13 gang membership has seen explosive growth, resulting in an escalation of gang-related violence.
Federal records show that of the 214 MS-13 gang members arrested in recent weeks, at least one-third of the suspects “would have been classified as UACs,” Fox News reported Friday. Reports from the Office of Refugee Resettlement show the agency placed more than 40,000 UACs around the country during the most recent fiscal year.
Breitbart Texas reported an increase in the number of UACs being apprehended at the border in August over the previous month. It was the fourth straight month of increases in UAC apprehensions along the southwestern border with Mexico. In August (the last month that numbers are available) 2,994UACs were apprehended, mostly in Texas. The FY 2017 totals have not yet been released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials. Year-to-Date numbers show that 38,495 UACs were apprehended along the southwestern border.
During FY 2017 (through August), 8,750 UACs from El Salvador were apprehended, CBP reports state. El Salvador is the home of MS-13. A total of 13, 694 UACs from Guatemala were apprehended, along with 7,314 from Honduras.
Fox News quoted immigration experts who said that even if the UACs did not come to the U.S. as members of MS-13, they become targets of the gangs and must join or face the consequences. Fox News cited a case in Islip, New York, where UACs were tied to a violent homicide carried out by MS-13.
“In their relentless effort to expand gang membership and gain traction within our communities, they aggressively target our children in school,” acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Tom Homan said in a written statement.
“Schools have become ground zero for MS-13 recruitment. Children may face retribution from the gang for refusing to join,” the ICE director stated. “They quickly transform into the lethal MS-13 gang members that they once feared.”
In April, Governor Greg Abbott declared that Texas will be “hostile territory for gangs” during an announcement of a dramatic expansion of the State’s Anti-Gang Task Force, Breitbart Texas reported from the press conference.
Governor Abbott and DPS Director Steve McCraw responded to a Breitbart Texas question regarding the connection between the surge of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) from El Salvador since 2014 and the recent spike in MS-13 related crime in Houston and across the nation.
“Some of the MS-13 gang members are here illegally,” Abbott said. “Some of them did come here as unaccompanied children.”
McCraw went further, explaining, “MS-13 will press children as young as 13 into the gangs in El Salvador.” He sais a high percentage of the MS-13 gang members are illegal aliens.
In response to a letter from U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Director Scott Lloyd reported that of 138 UACs being housed in ORR facilities in June, 35 were found to be gang members and four more were forced into gang involvement.
“As part of the Community Safety Initiative, ORR has reached out to DHS to enhance information sharing between DHS and ORR regarding potential gang affiliation of UAC or their sponsors,” Lloyd told Johnson.