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It seems that the Trump administration is following through on its promise to rid the United States of gangs comprised of illegal immigrants.

Reuters recently reported that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is planning raids that will target “teenagers who entered the country without guardians and are suspected gang members.” This new action marks a drastic expansion of the president’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.

According to Reuters, the raids are expected to begin on July 23 and continue until July 26. Among other types of illegal immigrants, the ICE raids will focus on teenagers that are 16 or 17 years old.

ICE has stated that individuals who meet two or more criteria will be classified as gang members. These criteria include:

  • Having gang tattoos.
  • Spending time in areas that are known to be frequented by gang members.
  • Wearing gang apparel.

The objective is to deport people who might threaten national security and public safety. President Trump’s approach is different from the Obama administration’s, who only targeted minors who have been convicted of crimes. Under the Trump administration, individuals can be deported if they exhibit the signs of being a gang member.

The president has repeatedly promised that he would take action against gang members — particularly those who belong to Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. This group is based in El Salvador and they are known for their extremely violent methods. At a rally in Iowa, the president said, “You have a gang called MS-13. They don’t like to shoot people. They like to cut people. They do things that nobody can believe” (via The Hill). He also stated that MS-13 would be “gone from our streets very soon.”

In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a direct message to MS-13, saying, “I have a message to the gangs that are targeting our young people: We are targeting you. We are coming after you” (via Fox News). The planned actions by ICE shows that the Trump administration means business.

As can be expected, the Trump administration’s efforts have drawn some criticism. Marielena Hincapie, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles said, “This is troubling on several levels. For one, the gang databases in places like California are rife with errors. We have seen babies labeled as potential gang members.”

While California’s databases may not be 100% accurate, Hincaple did not say whether or not the babies in question were being deported. As stated previously, the Trump administration’s current actions focus solely on teenagers who are aged 16 or 17.

David Leopold, an immigration lawyer at Ulmer & Berne expressed his concern that children who are not gang members could be caught in the raids. He said, “In many cases, children don’t freely decide to join a gang. They are threatened by older gang members and forced to get a gang tattoo if they live in a certain neighborhoods.”

ICE’s raids will not only focus on teenage gang members; it will also look at parents who entered the country illegally with their children and have a deportation order against them. The raids will also focus on children who entered the country illegally without guardians, but have turned 18 since they crossed the border.

MS-13 is one of the most ruthless street gangs operating in the United States. While testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, an FBI official stated that MS-13 is the most violent criminal gang in the country. The gang originated in Los Angeles in the 1980’s. It was made up of El Salvadorans who were fleeing the civil war occurring in their home country. According to the BBC, the gang has earned a reputation for carrying out brutal murders and rapes — usually using weapons like machetes and bats.

We are a kind and welcoming nation, but we are also a nation of laws. Trump understands this and has taken action to fight illegal immigration. Do you support him? Let everyone know in the poll below!

The El Salvadoran gang grows its ranks by recruiting children who are in the country illegally. The FBI assistant director in New York stated that members of the group are usually younger than members of other street gangs. These kids are typically desensitized to violence.

The Trump administration’s commitment to removing MS-13 from the United States will make Americans safer if ICE is able to do their jobs. Fortunately, our law enforcement officials will be allowed to take the actions necessary to keep people safe.