The vicious transnational gang MS-13 has enjoyed a resurgence across the U.S. thanks in part to reduced enforcement of illegal alien gang members and permissive policies toward resettling unaccompanied teenagers who arrived at the southwest border, according to an analysis released Wednesday.
Though it was founded in Los Angles by Salvadoran illegal immigrants, MS-13 today is based primarily in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Under the former President George W. Bush’s administration, the gang’s growth in the U.S. was kept in check by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who worked with local law enforcement to arrest suspected members on administrative immigration violations.
That changed under former President Barack Obama’s administration, which directed ICE offices to make arresting members for immigration violations or minor crimes a lower priority and concentrate instead on major conspiracy cases, according to the analysis from the Center for Immigration Studies.
Overall, ICE gang-related arrests fell from about 4,600 in 2012 to about 1,580 in 2014, the CIS report says.
At the same time it was de-prioritizing immigration enforcement of MS-13, the Obama administration faced a surge of unaccompanied alien children and family units across the southwest border, mostly from Central American countries. During the surge, which began in 2012 and lasted into 2016, Border Patrol agents arrested more than 300,000 UAC and family units.
Because U.S. immigration law requires alien minors to be released from immigration detention without “unnecessary delay” and placed in the “least restrictive setting” possible, most of the Central American teens were released with immigration hearings pending in the distant future.
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