Federal immigration laws are protecting foreign-born gang members from deportation, the top official for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency confirms.
During a White House roundtable meeting on the issues of the violent El Salvadorian MS-13 gang and immigration, USCIS Director Lee Francis Cissna explained to President Trump how current legal immigration laws prevent the agency from deporting foreign-born MS-13 gang members.
…There are no grounds in the law right now that permit us to deport a gang member merely because he’s a gang member. We have to wait until they’ve actually killed somebody or harmed an American. Then we have a reason to deport them; then we can get them. Or if they’re here unlawfully, okay. But if they’re here lawfully, and they’re a gang member, there’s no ground of removal, really. [Emphasis added]
Similarly, there’s no ground of inadmissibility. So we can’t stop them from coming in, and my people may have to grant them an immigration pathway because there’s no — nothing in the law that makes a gang member, merely because they’re a gang member, ineligible for that benefit. [Emphasis added]
Cissna told Trump that even as gang members, foreign-born individuals can still apply and obtain U.S. citizenship as there is no federal law barring USCIS from giving citizenship to gang members.
Indeed, they might even get citizenship under the law right now. You have to have what’s called good moral character to become a citizen. But gang membership is not explicitly on the list of things that makes you not qualified for good moral character. We can take it into account, we can look at it, we can weigh their gang membership against other things in their life, but we are not required to deny them the citizenship. [Emphasis added]
This is untenable, and I urge the members of Congress sitting here today to help us fix that. That is a horrendous loophole. It affects public safety, it affects the integrity of our laws. It cannot stand. [Emphasis added]
Trump’s administration has repeatedly demanded the Republican-controlled Congress to pass pro-American immigration legislation that closes legal immigration loopholes that have allowed gangs like MS-13 to flourish across the country.
The White House’s immigration agenda has asked Republicans in Congress to get behind a plan that would end the process known as “chain migration,” which allows newly naturalized citizens to bring an unlimited number of foreign relatives to the U.S., end the Diversity Visa Lottery program, which imports 50,000 random minimally vetted foreign nationals every year, and full funding for a border wall, as well as a close to legal loopholes that have driven illegal immigration to the country.
This week, the White House highlighted 15 foreign-born legal immigrant jihadists who entered the U.S. either through chain migration or the Visa Lottery.