We should be worried about the unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the border…because a third of them are in a gang.
MS-13 in particular has been infiltrating the U.S. using teenagers, who gang leaders knew the Obama administration would carefully protect. Border Patrol Agents were able to catch at least 160 gang members as soon as they’d crossed the border, but even knowing the danger these “children” presented, the Obama administration still ordered Border Patrol to let them in.
Unaccompanied minors caught entering the country illegally are turned over to the federal Health and Human Services Department, where they are then placed with sponsors. Once turned over to HHS, Border Patrol is no longer involved, leading to difficulty in tracking just how widespread the gang problem is.
Illegal alien children who come into the country with no gang involvement or ties don’t often stay that way for long. As Senator Grassley (R-Iowa) explained, “It is well-known that MS-13 actively targets and recruits children as young as eight years old.” The illegal and unaccompanied status of these children, as well as their heritage, make them easy targets for recruitment into gangs like MS-13, who present themselves as stand-ins for the family members UAC’s left back home.
Ironically, it is often by threatening these left-behind relatives that MS-13 and other gangs gain control of these minors. While drug sales and human trafficking remain a major source of profit for gangs, their greatest money maker is in fact extortion. Older gang members will threaten illegal immigrants with violence against relatives still living in Central America unless they cooperate.
U.S. citizens and legal residents are not even close to immune from the Central American gang struggles taking root within U.S. borders. Anyone who has family living—or traveling—in Central America can be extorted. Citizens and legal residents who fall victim to gang threats are no more likely to report the crimes than illegal immigrants, and for the same reason.
It is not deportation or entanglement with immigration officials victims fear. It’s the gangs themselves. In the areas hit hardest by the sudden influx of organized criminals, victims worry that the gang will get to them, or worse, their family, before the police can act to protect them.
Some major cities, including notorious Chicago, exacerbate the problem by protecting the foreign gang members who they have already arrested and jailed for their gang-related crimes from federal officials seeking to address the gang problem.
“We know who they are, we know they’re gang members, we know they’re criminals. But if the city, the county, doesn’t allow us to get into that jail, then they’re released back into the community, said Matthew Albence, executive associate director of enforcement and removal operations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Albence then added that Chicago has prevented agents from getting into the Cook County Jail for “a long time.”
According to Albence, New York and San Francisco are also major “sanctuary cities” that actively impede federal efforts at curbing the rapidly growing gang problem.
Here’s hoping that Trump sorts them out quickly, lest they become too overrun with Central American gangs for U.S. citizens to safely enjoy.