The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) surveyed illegal immigrant minors in its custody and found that 28 percent of them were gang members, according to Senate testimony.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Wednesday on the “MS-13 problem.” The Salvadoran gang has grown in the recent years in the U.S. due to an influx of illegal immigrant minors from Central America.
Scott Lloyd, director of the ORR, described in his opening testimony the extent of the gang problem among these young illegal immigrants. Unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors are kept in ORR facilities until the agency can find them a sponsor, who is typically a relative.
Lloyd said that a review of these unaccompanied minors in their facilities on June 9 found that of 138 minors in these facilities, 35 were “voluntarily involved with gangs.” He added that four had said they were forced into joining gangs.
The ORR director said that of the 59,170 unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors referred to ORR in Fiscal Year 2016, 95 percent were from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, all of which are nationalities that MS-13 recruits from.
Lloyd said that the ORR has started the “Community Safety Initiative,” which seeks to combat gang membership among unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors.
The Trump administration has been adamant about cracking down on MS-13. President Trump said during a cabinet meeting last week that the gang “will be gone pretty soon.”