Government says 30% of children caught at border have ties to violent drug gangs

Government officials revealed during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that 30% of children captured at the border have ties to MS-13 and other violent drug gangs.

The Obama administration knew of the problem but claimed that by law, they had to admit the refugees regardless of their ties to violent criminal gangs.

Washington Times:

Nearly 30 percent of the illegal immigrant children the U.S. is holding in its dormitories have ties to criminal gangs, the government revealed Wednesday, suggesting that the Obama-era surge of Central Americans has fed the country's growing problem with MS-13 and other gangs.

Federal officials refused even to guess at the true scope of the problem, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that they can give only small snapshots of what they see. But they said the devastation on communities across the country is clear: killings and chaos, particularly among other immigrants — both legal and illegal.

The Border Patrol identified 160 teens who were known or suspected gang members when they first showed up at the border, but whom the Obama administration said it had to admit under U.S. law.

Meanwhile, a spot check this month of 138 teens being held by the federal Health and Human Services Department identified 39 with gang ties. Four of them were forced into cooperating with the gangs and 35 joined voluntarily, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

"It is well-known that MS-13 actively targets and recruits children as young as 8 years old," said Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee who called Wednesday's hearing.

"While their illegal status and Central American heritage are a key factor in MS-13's targeting, without a doubt the failures of the current system for handling these children is also to blame," he said. "The current system is fraught with abuse, systematic errors and a lack of effective cooperation."

He was stunned that no agency could say how many "UAC," as the government dubs unaccompanied alien children, have been recruited.

The agencies point to one another and to federal laws, saying their hands are tied.

Agencies are reviewing Obama-era interpretations of the law, but it seems incomprehensible that this loophole can exist. It seems clear that M-13 and other gangs are using the children and US policy on dealing with unaccompanied minors at the border to engage in gang activity on American soil.

Officials said MS-13 is involved in some drug dealing and does engage in human trafficking, but its real money-making operation is extortion. The gang threatens families — including American citizens — with violence against relatives back in Central America unless those in the U.S. pay them off.

Gang members in the U.S. take directions directly from gang commanders in El Salvador, authorities say.

Kenneth A. Blanco, acting assistant attorney general in the criminal division at the Justice Department, also said immigrants who fail to report crimes to local police are often not afraid of being deported by federal authorities, but rather fear retaliation from the gang members and other criminals who live in their neighborhoods.

He said witnesses' names become public, making them targets for retribution.

"That really, in my 28 years, has been the fear they have of calling the police. Not so much the other way around," he said. "They're really scared of these people."

That runs counter to the argument made by Democrats and some local police chiefs that illegal immigrants refuse to report crimes because they fear entanglement with federal deportation agents.

Such "below the radar" policies cost lives.  That should be the bottom line in creating and implementing any immigration and refugee policy regardless of whether it affects adults or children.  That 30% of children who we've been told only want to come to America to get away from gang violence are themselves engaged in gang activity is a clear and present danger to Americans and illegal aliens alike. 

That the government has known of this problem for years and allowed it to continue is the height of stupidity and bureaucratic incompetence.

Government officials revealed during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that 30% of children captured at the border have ties to MS-13 and other violent drug gangs.

The Obama administration knew of the problem but claimed that by law, they had to admit the refugees regardless of their ties to violent criminal gangs.

Washington Times:

Nearly 30 percent of the illegal immigrant children the U.S. is holding in its dormitories have ties to criminal gangs, the government revealed Wednesday, suggesting that the Obama-era surge of Central Americans has fed the country's growing problem with MS-13 and other gangs.

Federal officials refused even to guess at the true scope of the problem, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that they can give only small snapshots of what they see. But they said the devastation on communities across the country is clear: killings and chaos, particularly among other immigrants — both legal and illegal.

The Border Patrol identified 160 teens who were known or suspected gang members when they first showed up at the border, but whom the Obama administration said it had to admit under U.S. law.

Meanwhile, a spot check this month of 138 teens being held by the federal Health and Human Services Department identified 39 with gang ties. Four of them were forced into cooperating with the gangs and 35 joined voluntarily, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

"It is well-known that MS-13 actively targets and recruits children as young as 8 years old," said Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee who called Wednesday's hearing.

"While their illegal status and Central American heritage are a key factor in MS-13's targeting, without a doubt the failures of the current system for handling these children is also to blame," he said. "The current system is fraught with abuse, systematic errors and a lack of effective cooperation."

He was stunned that no agency could say how many "UAC," as the government dubs unaccompanied alien children, have been recruited.

The agencies point to one another and to federal laws, saying their hands are tied.

Agencies are reviewing Obama-era interpretations of the law, but it seems incomprehensible that this loophole can exist. It seems clear that M-13 and other gangs are using the children and US policy on dealing with unaccompanied minors at the border to engage in gang activity on American soil.

Officials said MS-13 is involved in some drug dealing and does engage in human trafficking, but its real money-making operation is extortion. The gang threatens families — including American citizens — with violence against relatives back in Central America unless those in the U.S. pay them off.

Gang members in the U.S. take directions directly from gang commanders in El Salvador, authorities say.

Kenneth A. Blanco, acting assistant attorney general in the criminal division at the Justice Department, also said immigrants who fail to report crimes to local police are often not afraid of being deported by federal authorities, but rather fear retaliation from the gang members and other criminals who live in their neighborhoods.

He said witnesses' names become public, making them targets for retribution.

"That really, in my 28 years, has been the fear they have of calling the police. Not so much the other way around," he said. "They're really scared of these people."

That runs counter to the argument made by Democrats and some local police chiefs that illegal immigrants refuse to report crimes because they fear entanglement with federal deportation agents.

Such "below the radar" policies cost lives.  That should be the bottom line in creating and implementing any immigration and refugee policy regardless of whether it affects adults or children.  That 30% of children who we've been told only want to come to America to get away from gang violence are themselves engaged in gang activity is a clear and present danger to Americans and illegal aliens alike. 

That the government has known of this problem for years and allowed it to continue is the height of stupidity and bureaucratic incompetence.

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