Rep. Vern Buchanan: Trump is serious about taking down MS-13

Attorney General Bill Barr traveled to El Salvador this week with the goal of protecting Americans from dangerous gang members crossing the border into our country.

This included meetings with his counterparts in the Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) to stanch the flow of violence, drugs, and human trafficking that is afflicting the U.S. and the region.

Americans are victim to the violence emanating from the MS-13 gang’s base in El Salvador. In fact, MS-13 members in the U.S. often follow orders from gang leaders in the Central American nation.

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Barr stated, “We have to eradicate these gangs wherever we find them before they threaten the safety of all of our communities. In order to incapacitate MS-13 and similar groups, we will use all lawful tools within and outside our borders to make sure these criminals face justice.”

I couldn’t agree more and I applaud the Trump administration for making this a priority.

The gang’s disregard for human life is evident in its motto “mata, viola, controla” – which means "kill, rape, control.”

MS-13 takes pride in their heinous acts of violence and savagery.

For example, one victim was stabbed 100 times, decapitated and then set on fire. Another victim was kidnapped, hacked to pieces with a machete and then shot.

Every day we fail to act is another day that MS-13 grows stronger and gets to infiltrate our communities and prey on Americans.

The bloodthirsty gang is also known for their brazen plots to assassinate law enforcement officers – and are reportedly targeting New York police in order to build street credibility for themselves.

It is unfathomable that loopholes in our legal system give safe haven to more than 10,000 MS-13 members in our communities.

On the first day of the 116th Congress, I introduced the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act. My legislation would allow for the immediate deportation of any member of a gang engaged in crimes of violence or felony drug offenses, even if they have been legally admitted to the country. Under current law they could not be deported solely because of their affiliation with a criminal gang.

We can’t allow vicious gangs like MS-13 to enter or reside in America. President Trump has called on Congress to “finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country.”

With Barr’s trip to San Salvador, the Trump administration is demonstrating its ironclad commitment to taking down MS-13.

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It’s time for Congress to help the president protect the American people from this transnational threat. That is why I urge Speaker Pelosi to bring my bill for a vote to crack down on this nefarious syndicate.

Every day we fail to act is another day that MS-13 grows stronger and gets to infiltrate our communities and prey on Americans.

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