Rep. Martha McSally yesterday attended a meeting at the White House with President Trump to discuss cracking down on MS-13, also known as La Mara Salvatrucha— a violent transnational Salvadorian gang with a chilling motto: “mata, viola, controla” – which means “kill, rape, control.” According to the Department of Justice, MS-13 is one of the largest street gangs in the United States and has 10,000 members inside the U.S. – including Arizona.
The roundtable discussion centered on how to combat the gang’s activities by securing the border, closing loopholes, and removing barriers to deporting lethal gang members.
During the meeting, McSally highlighted the need for a border wall system and the dire need to close glaring loopholes.
“This is very real for the people I represent. We have got to secure our border. That includes as you know a comprehensive border wall system and everything that our agents need in order to be able to secure our border. But as everyone has brought up today as well, if we perfectly seal the border, but don’t close these loopholes, then these dangerous criminal organizations are going to continue to take advantage of us,” McSally said in a statement from her office.
McSally went on to describe the rampant loophole abuse occurring daily in her district.
“In my community that I represent, illegal crossers are not evading Border Patrol—they are looking for Border Patrol. They turn themselves in and then they make false asylum claims because the cartels told them exactly what to say. If they are an unaccompanied minor from Mexico or Canada, they are then released quickly into the interior of the United States and we can’t do anything about it. Most of them don’t show up for their future court dates in the future. We know that transnational criminal organizations are taking advantage of the loopholes in our system. We’ve got to stop them at the border where I live—and that includes securing the border and closing these ridiculous loopholes,” she pointed out.
“First, we have an inadmissibility problem, meaning that when they come across our border, I have to let them in. I cannot keep them out by virtue of them being in the gang. Once we catch them and detain them, I cannot remove them by virtue of them being in a gang,” she said.
MS-13 is known to regularly conduct activities in at least 40 states and the District of Columbia. Arizona is one of the gang’s transition points on the way to other areas, however, in just the past few months Border Patrol agents have arrested numerous previously deported members of MS-13. Just this week, Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents arrested 36-year-old Oscar Moreno-Mejia, a confirmed member of the MS-13 street gang with criminal history in California.
“We see MS-13 using Arizona as a transition point, where they travel through Arizona on their way to other areas of the country,” Jill McCabe, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Phoenix.
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