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Who Are MS-13 And Why Does Trump Talk About Them?

by Countable | 7.31.17

In a speech to law enforcement officers on Friday, President Donald Trump said that "blood-stained killing fields," line Long Island, and that the international gang MS-13 are responsible.

Trump was in Brentwood, New York, to deliver remarks on MS-13. The gang originated in Los Angeles but has ties to El Salvador, and has long been a target of Trump’s hardline immigration and anti-crime proposals.

According to Trump, MS-13 has turned "peaceful parks and beautiful, quiet neighborhoods" into veritable war zones akin to “the Old Wild West.” As Trump’s speech continued his descriptions of the violence grew more graphic: “They kidnap, they extort, they rape, and they rob. They prey on children. They shouldn't be here. They stomp on their victims. They beat them with clubs. They slash them with machetes, and they stab them with knives.”

In the past 18 months, Long Island’s Suffolk County has seen 17 killings by the gang.

Back in April, President Trump blamed his predecessor for MS-13: "The weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS-13 gangs to form in cities across U.S. We are removing them fast!" Trump tweeted.

In actuality, the group, known as Mara Salvatrucha in Spanish, has been around since at least the 1980s. As detailed on InsightCrime.org, "MS-13 was founded in the ‘barrios’ of Los Angeles in the 1980s. As a result of the civil wars wracking El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, refugees flooded northward."

Initially, the gang was composed of El Salvadorans, which is how the group gets its name: mara is a term for gang; salva refers to El Salvador; and trucha, which translates to trout, is Central American slang for clever. When the group joined forces with the Mexican mafia, they added the number that corresponds with M in the alphabet: 13.

Then, as explained by Business Insider, in the 1990s "an increase in deportations sent many of the gang's members back to Central America…returning them to countries to which many had no real connections or had never even been to." There, “in unstable post-conflict environments in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the gang grew quickly.”

Since that time, MS-13 has continued to grow; the Justice Department estimates there are over 10,000 members in the U.S. across 40 states and Washington D.C.

Speaking in Long Island in April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, "We cannot continue with this transporting across our border, illegal immigrants who have not been properly vetted and actually are part of criminal organizations." The AG continued, "The MS-13 motto is 'kill, rape, and control. ... That should tell us enough about the kind of group that we confront."

Sessions was in El Salvador last week, discussing gang violence.

In Friday’s speech, against a backdrop of uniformed Long Island police, Trump blamed the recent MS-13 killings on "America's weak borders and lax immigration enforcement." He told the assembled crowd, "We're getting them out anyway but we'd like to get them out a lot faster." Trump also touted the $1.6 billion Congress has allotted for his border wall with Mexico.

However, some of Trump’s comments drew criticism from civil rights and advocacy communities, for what they said encourages police violence. Directing his comments to the surrounding officers, the President said:

"When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, and I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over, like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody, don’t hit their head. I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?’“

The remarks were denounced by the ACLU, International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Police Foundation, among other groups.

During the speech, however, the President’s remarks drew applause. As did his comments aimed at MS-13:

"I have a simple message for you. We will find you, we will arrest you, we will jail you, and we will deport you."

*Tell your lawmakers how you think we should be dealing with gang violence, and groups like MS-13, by tapping the Take Action button.

--Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement / Public Domain)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(43)
  • BananaNeil
    07/31/2017
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    It's really a shame that the gang violence is being used as a apart of an anti immigration campaign. Yes, remove these gang members from the streets. No, it's not an issue with immigration.

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  • Steve
    07/31/2017
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    Trump loves to present the gangs as being typical immigrants from Latin America. What's more, many gang members are native born Americans, caught between their original foreign culture and American culture.', and not fully accepted by either. Trump' rhetoric does nothing to solve the problem. It drums up the fear his base feels.

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  • Matthew
    07/31/2017
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    The Incompetent Dictator will use any negative group or idea to propitiate his bigoted, racist rhetoric to help excuse his vile ideas on immigration.

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  • Patty
    07/31/2017
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    If we would stop going after honest, hardworking people who have jobs and families, maybe we would have the resources to go after the gangs.

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  • C
    07/31/2017
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    Some criminals are immigrants and some immigrants are criminals. Most immigrants are not criminals. In fact, the vast majority of criminals are NOT immigrants. So. If you want to be "tough on crime it is not very effective to look at the immigrant population. More productive would be to look at the People who won't ( oh let's say) release their taxes

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  • Truly
    07/31/2017
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    We should work to remove gangs from our streets. Especially when they are using the same tactics as trump rally attendees.

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  • Eric
    07/31/2017
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    Thank you President Trump! Thank you for being the one to finally have the courage to step up and work to solve this very important issue. All these haters on Countable haven't been touched by violence or other crimes perpetrated by ILLEGAL immigrants. They're all so selfish and they don't ever think about the horrible impacts illegal immigration has had on innocent American citizens and LEGAL immigrants who reside here. So sad how cold and uncaring they are. These liberals really don't have any humanity or concern for innocent victims or their families who will suffer every day for the rest of their lives. Thank you President Trump for your caring and compassionate actions to protect the good people from the bad ones.

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  • Kristen
    07/31/2017
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    Rule of thumb: if Trump says it, its bullshit. Get rid of him. Whatever it takes.

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  • Joe
    08/01/2017
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    17 Killings is terrible, but how does it stack up to a healthcare plan that could kill millions? So you can't get a healthcare bill done? Let's let the ACA fail while spending its money on negative ads against it. In 6 - 12 month Americans will be so desperate for health coverage that they'll take whatever shitty plan we propose. Now let's pretend we're really concerned about this gang while we condone police brutality across the Country.

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  • Joanne
    07/31/2017
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    Of course we need to deal with and eliminate gang violence, however, trump's comments were way out of line, as usual.

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  • Ann
    07/31/2017
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    <sarcasm on> He should hire them into his current administration. They would fit in well. <sarcasm off>

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  • Gail
    08/01/2017
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    Trump talks about MS-13, because he would like us to fear the gardeners with their menacing leaf blowing machines, as we shrink in fear that Hispanic workers will rise up from the fields and pelt us with strawberries. Why can't congress just pass an immigration bill? Is the gang from El Salvador bad? Yes. Should we then thus fear all immigrants? America would collapse without our friends from south of the border doing all the work that most born here refuse to do. Maybe he should be focused with the North Koreans lobbing nuked ever closer or perhaps Afghanistan instead for which he has no plan. Could he even find Afghanistan on a map?

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  • Suzi
    07/31/2017
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    One way that has been effective in fighting violent gangs is for local police to work with the migrant population in sanctuary cities. Trump and Sessions are doing the exact opposite of that along with spouting incorrect information so as long as they are involved the violent gang population and their activities will rise. ☹️ Thanks trump.😖

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  • Dave.Land
    08/01/2017
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    Trump, like so many dictators before him, is spinning up fears of brown-skinned, machete-wielding gang-bangers because that's red meat to his base. His speech has nothing to do with keeping anybody safe or "making America great," but with amping up the 36% of Americans who are enthralled by this simpering weakling who pretends to be a tough guy. He wants America to be afraid, because frightened people are easier to trick into giving us their freedom and harming those who are "other."

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  • Bfowler7
    07/31/2017
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    Yes remove violent gang members from our streets and community. Let's give law enforcement the support they need. This is a serious issue that affects all of us.

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  • evelynpsims
    07/31/2017
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    This is not an immigration issue or illegal immigration problem. This is a law enforcement issue. It is crime, it is gang related violence. Stop trying to making these pocket crime an issue against immigrants. That nuts. Same goes for the Katey Law. I feel very saddened for the senseless murder of this woman. However just because the murdered happened to be illegal does not make this an issue for all illegal aliens. Again this is throwing blame to a place it doesn't belong.

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  • Katie
    08/01/2017
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    This is not an immigration issue, it's a deportation and systematic disenfranchisement issue. This is a brutal gang and must be stopped. However, we can't forget that it started in US prisons and was then exported to cause innumerable pain and destruction n Central America. More incarceration and deportation will only make the problem worse.

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  • Dave
    08/01/2017
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    You have gangs and organize crime which country would you like; Central Asian, Russia, South American, Central America, India, Middle East, South Asia, Northern Asia, South Africa and some Mexican cartels. Then we have our home grown wackos that have done more then the gangs and mobs, gang and mobs normally just kill each other. 911 was Southern Middle East the one not on the list. Percentage wise the Mexican are mostly the least of the problem, but it a good rally point to confuse the facts and change the subject. We need to put a wall on the Canada border to. I think the states that are on the borders can pay for the wall, in fact ever state should be a gated community with their own walls around it to keep out the unwashed and unworthy. We could cut down the prison system, because the state would became the prison. Really, if you want to fix the problem, you got to fix the source of the problem! Putting up a wall not going to do it!

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  • James
    07/31/2017
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    These men belonged to this criminal organization back in their own countries! Now they are here and on our streets! No different than any other criminal terrorist organization! They deal drugs and commit murders! These are not citizens as they snuck across the border as well! Now get your heads out of your butts!

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  • Dara
    07/31/2017
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    Someone please stop these ignorant comments made by Trump. Engage your brain, read, learn, and then speak. It is truely sad we elected an individual that does not know the issues. Sad!

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