President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized his predecessor for being “weak” on illegal immigration and blamed him, without evidence, for allowing the violent MS-13 gang to form in America.
“The weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS 13 gangs to form in cities across U.S. We are removing them fast!” the president said on Twitter at about 5:40 a.m.
The MS-13 gang, which is based in Central America, was formed by Salvadorans fleeing that country’s civil war in the 1980s. The FBI recognized that the gang was a growing threat in the early 2000s — before former President Barack Obama was elected — and in 2004 created a task force “to investigate this violent international street gang,” according to the FBI. In 2008, the FBI stated that MS-13 had expanded to at least 42 states and D.C.
During an interview with “Fox and Friends” co-anchor Ainsley Earhardt that aired Tuesday, Trump said his administration has already kicked out dangerous illegal immigrants who were in this country. He didn’t specify MS-13 gang members.
“I’m talking about illegal immigrants that were here that caused tremendous crime that have murdered people, raped people; horrible things have happened. They are getting the hell out, or they are going to prison,” he says. “It is a serious problem and we never did anything about it, and now we’re doing something about it.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, addressing the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Council and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Executive Committee Tuesday, also honed his sights on MS-13. His comments come on the heels of a quadruple homicide in Long Island, New York last week that law enforcement believes is the work of MS-13.
"Transnational criminal organizations like MS-13 represent one of the gravest threats to American safety," Sessions said. "These organizations enrich themselves by pedaling poison in our communities, trafficking children for sexual exploitation, and inflicting horrific violence in the communities where they operate."
Sessions was discussing the implementation of Trump’s Feb. 9 executive order, which aims to increase coordination among different agencies relating to international criminal organizations. He also continued the administration’s criticism of sanctuary cities.
"Sanctuary cities dangerously undermine this process. Harboring criminal aliens only helps violent gangs like MS-13," he said. "Sanctuary Cities are aiding these cartels to refill their ranks and putting innocent life — including the lives of countless law-abiding immigrants — in danger."
The attorney general also indirectly criticized the previous administration, blaming the rise of MS-13 on "an open border and years of lax immigration enforcement."