The Department of Homeland Security under former President Barack Obama knowingly admitted teenage members of a vicious transnational gang into the U.S. during a flood of illegal immigration, a leading Republican senator said Wednesday.
Sen. Ron Johnson, citing internal agency documents from a whistleblower, told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that DHS allowed at least 16 MS-13 members to stay in the U.S. after border agents detained them in 2014. The gang members arrived in the U.S. as a part of a wave of unaccompanied minors from Central American countries, where MS-13 is a dominant criminal organization.
“CBP apprehended them, knew they were MS-13 gang members, and they processed and disbursed them into our communities,” Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, said.
Johnson revealed the whistleblower documents during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee to discuss the threat of MS-13, which has been responsible for a recent spate of grisly murders in several cities across the country. The police commissioner in Suffolk County, N.Y., the site of at least 17 MS-13-related murders since 2016, told the committee that gang members are often drawn from populations of Central American teens who came to the U.S. in the unaccompanied minor surge. (RELATED: Top Cops Sound Alarm On Gruesome MS-13 Violence)
“Most MS-13 gang members have connections to El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras,” Commissioner Timothy Sini said. “Of a sampling of 143 active gang members plus 11 MS-13 victims, 89 entered the United States illegally and currently do not have legal status.”
Suffolk County has been a common landing spot for unaccompanied minors since the height of the surge. From the beginning of 2014 through March 2017, more than 4,500 were placed in the county alone.
The Obama administration said children should be treated as refugees fleeing rampant crime and poverty in their home countries, though security analysts warned that hardened gang members were likely mixed in with the flood of migrants.
Johnson said the portrayal of unaccompanied minors as desperate children didn’t paint the full picture of the situation.
Out of nearly 200,000 UAC apprehended between from 2012 to 2016, about 68 percent were between the ages of 15 and 17, reports the Washington Times. Most of the teenagers were male, meaning they were ideal recruits for MS-13.
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