The Obama administration let at least 16 MS-13 gang members stay in the U.S. in 2014, Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said Wednesday.
The Wisconsin Republican said a whistleblower provided Customs and Border Protection documents showing that the illegal immigrant teenagers were sent to juvenile homes across the country even though immigration officials knew their gang affiliation.
“CBP apprehended them, knew they were MS-13 gang members, and they processed and disbursed them into our communities,” Johnson said.
The teenagers came to the U.S. during the massive influx of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) in 2014 that overwhelmed the Obama administration. Officials argued the minors should be treated as refugees fleeing violence in their countries of origin, but Johnson said the notion that they were little kids is misleading.
Out of nearly 200,000 UAC apprehended between from 2012 to 2016, 68 percent were ages 15, 16 or 17 — meaning older teens. The majority were also male, making them targets for gang recruiting.
Johnson and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini warned that the gangs are recruiting new and young immigrants.
MS13 has used US schools to recruit members; the typical member today is younger & more violent than in years past. https://t.co/LUKkkycYqi— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) May 24, 2017
Police Comm. Timothy Sini on MS13 recruiting immigrants--> pic.twitter.com/gYk5VAhUDA— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) May 24, 2017
The Trump administration has vowed to eradicate the gang, which has more than 10,000 members living within the United States, according to Justice Department estimates.