There were nearly 22,000 “potential recruits” for the violent El Salvadorian MS-13 gang resettled across the United States as Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) in 2017, according to an official.
In a roundtable at the White House, New York City Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official Angel Melendez told President Donald Trump that, in 2017 alone, nearly 41,000 UACs had been resettled across the U.S.
“These aren’t the total amounts of UACs that were detained at the border,” Melendez said. “These were the ones that were referred to be resettled within the United States.”
Of the almost 41,000 UACs resettled across the country, Melendez said about 21,881 are from either El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras and are male, as well as “in the right age for gang recruitment” ranging between 13 to 17 years old.
Melendez said [emphasis added]:
What I’m saying, understanding MS-13, is that they’re looking at these 21,000 unaccompanied alien children that came into those states as potential recruits to continue to fill in their ranks … Another thing that we’ve been able to look at is, across certain operations that we’ve been able to manage throughout the last couple of years, 30 percent is a consistent number that we’ve seen of MS-13 members that have been arrested that came into this country as unaccompanied alien children.
Melendez said that 63 percent of UACs in the U.S. apply for the Special Immigrant Juvenile program, which gives them a pathway to a Green Card and ultimately U.S. citizenship.
John Cronan with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Criminal Division told Trump that, currently, about 10,000 MS-13 gang members are living across the U.S., noting that gang members are “primarily composed of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador, and they have infiltrated our entire country.”
The reason MS-13 is so massive in our country, the reason why they have 10,000 members in 40 states and the District of Columbia, is because many of those gang members have illegally entered our country.
When we fail to enforce our immigration and human smuggling laws, when we have loopholes in our immigration laws, and when we have porous borders and insufficient enforcement of our immigration laws, MS-13 can simply replenish its jail population by sending more and more gang members across our borders.
In his State of the Union (SOTU) address, Trump called on the Republican-controlled Congress to close “deadly loopholes” in the legal immigration system that have allowed MS-13 to flourish across the country.
“Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country,” Trump said. “We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws, and support our ICE and Border Patrol Agents, so that this cannot ever happen again.”