Amid Trump's Immigration Crackdown, Uncovering MS-13

Jun 26, 2018
Originally published on June 26, 2018 3:54 pm

With John Harwood

We look at MS-13, the criminal gang that’s become central to the immigration debate.


Hannah Dreier, immigration reporter at ProPublica. Spent the last 12 months reporting on the MS13 gang’s activities in the Greater New York area. (@hannahdreier)

José Miguel Cruz, director of research at Florida International University’s Latin American and Caribbean Center. (@josemiguecruz)

Sean Sullivan, reporter covering national politics at The Washington Post. (@WaPoSean)

From The Reading List:

ProPublica: I’ve Been Reporting on MS-13 for a Year. Here Are the 5 Things Trump Gets Most Wrong.” — “I’m spending the year reporting on MS-13 members and their associates. I’ve been combing through their text messages. I’m talking with the detectives building cases against killers not yet old enough to buy cigarettes. And I’ve been spending long evenings with the gang’s victims, who often start crying as soon as they start talking about the violence that has marred their lives. Everyone agrees the gang is bloodthirsty. Most of the other assertions I’ve heard from the Trump administration this year about MS-13 have almost no connection to what I’m seeing on the ground.”

The Washington Post: Mike Huckabee tweets photo comparing Nancy Pelosi’s campaign staff to MS-13 gang members” — “Hours before Mike Huckabee lamented the treatment of his daughter at a Virginia restaurant, the former Arkansas governor tweeted a photo Saturday morning of a group of tattooed gang members and suggested they made up Democrat Nancy Pelosi’s campaign committee to ‘take back’ the House of Representatives.

The false implication was clear: Huckabee was another of many Republicans once again trying to stick the House minority leader with the image of an MS-13 gang sympathizer.

‘Trump and his surrogates will continue to repeat blatantly false attacks as long as the media continues to take the bait and print them,’ Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill told The Washington Post.”

In the wrenching national debate about immigration, Americans are hearing a lot from their president about violent gangs – specifically a gang called MS-13. Who are they? Where are they? What threat does MS-13 pose, to themselves or to others? Why does President Trump talk about them so much this election year? We’ll talk to experts on the gang and its history, and to a political reporter.

This hour, On Point: Understanding what MS-13 is, and is not.

– John Harwood

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