Politics

Whistleblower: Obama Admin Knowingly Released MS-13 Members

DHS documents reveal 16 members of violent criminal gang let go after being arrested

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that former President Barack Obama’s administration knowingly allowed 16 illegal immigrant MS-13 gang members to settle into the U.S. after apprehending them at the border in 2014.

Johnson, speaking at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing, referred to documents from the Customs and Border Protection obtained from a whistleblower. Obama’s Department of Homeland Security caught the 16 gang members in 2014 as part of the surge of unaccompanied alien children (UAC).

“It’s shocking, but not really surprising, that under Obama policies, even positively identified MS-13 gang members were allowed to come in the country after crossing illegally.”

“CBP apprehended them, knew they were MS-13 gang members, and they processed and they disbursed them into our communities,” Johnson said in his opening statement as chairman of the committee.

At the time, administration officials tended to treat the UAC border-crossers as refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. Most MS-13 gang members are from El Salvador and travel up through Guatemala and Mexico to reach our southern border.

“It’s shocking, but not really surprising, that under Obama policies, even positively identified MS-13 gang members were allowed to come in the country after crossing illegally, under the bogus pretense that they were fleeing danger in El Salvador,” Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, told LifeZette in an email.

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“In reality, most of these kids were coming because their parents saw an opportunity to pay a smuggler to bring them here knowing that they would be released, few questions asked,” Vaughan added. “Of course most of the tens of thousands of kids who came illegally are not gang members, but the Obama policies allowed even gang members to take advantage of the catch-and-release policies.”

Ira Mehlman, media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), told LifeZette that the Obama administration’s immigration policy “was to just get as many people in as possible.”

“You know, the whole phenomenon of unaccompanied minors … it was pretty much self-induced by the policies of the Obama administration, which sent the signal that if you got to the border and claimed to be a minor that we would let you in, pending some kind of hearing in the distant future that you probably weren’t going to show up for anyway,” Mehlman said.

One of the Democrats’ most common explanations for the catch-and-release policy has always been compassion for the young children attempting to escape the atrocities of their home countries. Although this can be the case, Johnson noted during the hearing that 68 percent of the nearly 200,000 UAC immigrants caught at the border between 2012 and 2016 were males ages 15-17 and as such are prime candidates for gang recruitment.

“Another problem is that even the kids who were not gang members before they got here are now living among other gang members and in some cases being pressured to join in the crime,” Vaughan said. “Sadly, local communities have to fend for themselves in dealing with the problems created by allowing all these families and kids to come in, and many of the communities simply don’t have the resources.”

Mehlman noted that another factor that led to the surge of unaccompanied minors was the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which included a loophole that he claimed the Obama administration exploited.

“This was also created by a badly written law intended to prevent human trafficking, that encouraged people to come to the United States in this manner,” Mehlman said. “And that needs to be changed by Congress.”

“DHS’ statistics indicate that the number of unaccompanied minors and families with children have declined by some 90 percent since the beginning of the Trump administration,” Mehlman added. “And the other thing they need to do is to encourage, cajole, whatever it takes to get Congress to change, to amend the anti-trafficking act that created the incentive for people to come to the United States illegally or to be smuggled to the United States.”

During the hearing, local law enforcement officials begged the Senate to increase federal funding and amend surveillance laws in order to deal more effectively with illegal-immigrant-fueled criminal organizations such as MS-13.

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Wednesday’s hearing occurred one month after Attorney General Jeff Sessions told MS-13 during a speech: “We are targeting you. We are coming after you. The MS-13 motto is ‘kill, rape and control.’ That’s their motto. Our motto is going to be ‘justice for victims and consequences for criminals.'”

But some Democrats were disturbed by the whistleblower’s information, including the ranking Democrat on the committee, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Although she called for stamping out violent gangs, she expressed her serious concern that the whistleblower’s documents “were released so quickly” in a manner that could compromise intelligence efforts, according to The Washington Times.

“Sen. McCaskill’s comments are oddly out of sync with the seriousness of these revelations about the safety threat created by the Obama administration’s disastrous border policies, of which she was well aware, yet did nothing to challenge,” Vaughan said.

Mehlman added, “What Claire McCaskill, as a member of Congress, should be concerned with is ensuring that our policies protect people who deserve to be protected and don’t injure the safety of the American public, and make it clear to people that you can’t abuse our immigration and asylum policies.”

“That is Congress’ job, and she and her 99 colleagues in the Senate and 435 colleagues in the House, they should be addressing those sorts of issues,” Mehlman insisted.

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