Gang Member Arrests at the Southern Border Have Already Surpassed Previous Years' Totals
On May 23, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that its agents arrested five MS-13 gang members and one Paisas gang member in the Rio Grande Valley sector in a matter of a week. Some of the apprehended aliens had prior criminal convictions for unlawfully entering the United States. Unfortunately, gang member encounters at the southern border have become commonplace due to the anti-border policies implemented by President Joe Biden.
Recent CBP data reveal that border authorities have apprehended 393 gang members along the Southwest border so far in Fiscal Year 2022, surpassing the gang member arrest totals of FY 2020 (363) and FY 2021 (348). With only four months still to go FY 2022, how many more criminal aliens with gang ties will the U.S. encounter this year?
The crime syndicates whose members are encountered the most by border authorities are:
- MS-13: 149
- Pasias: 80
- 18th Street: 66
- Surenos (Sur-13): 30
CBP should be lauded for its efforts in apprehending known associates of violent street gangs. However, for every lawbreaker that is arrested, how many more were able to evade authorities and sneak into the interior of the United States? The American people should be concerned with illegal alien gang members getting past border agents and infiltrating their communities.
Last July, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) sounded the alarm over the influx of gang members and other criminal aliens being apprehended at the Southwest border. The Wisconsin Republican sent a letter to then-Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller asking for the following information broken down by gang affiliation and fiscal year:
- How many gang members had prior criminal convictions? In addition, what types of offenses were these individuals convicted of, and the number of individuals who received each conviction.
- How many apprehended gang members had previously attempted to cross the border?
CBP has yet to respond to Sen. Johnson’s request.
A month later, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland inquiring about the status of Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV). Created by the Trump administration in 2019, JTFV is comprised of federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies in an effort to dismantle MS-13 groups across the United States.
In the letter, Sen. Grassley asked if JTFV was reduced or scrapped altogether since the strike team had not announced any productivity since before President Biden began his term. JTFV has only announced its involvement in only two operations during the Biden administration’s time in office.
Despite an increase in gang-related apprehensions and activity at the southern border, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the Biden administration has arrested fewer deportable gang members in the country’s interior compared with previous presidential administrations. One would think removing as many confirmed alien gang members from the country as possible would be a top priority for the federal government.
At this rate, President Biden’s policies will negate the progress made during the Trump administration in combating transnational gangs. Unless the president abandons his lax border and interior immigration enforcement policies, more foreign gang members will exploit our open border to wreak havoc in our communities.