President Donald Trump’s administration is deporting so many MS-13 gang members that officials in Central America have recently held emergency meetings to address the issue.
According to a Washington Post report, officials in El Salvador are growing increasingly worried over the number of MS-13 gang members returning from the U.S. They worry that a large increase of violent gang members in the streets could intensify El Salvador's established problem with violent crime.
Citing Salvadorian government statistics, the Post reports that nearly 400 gang members have been deported to El Salvador in the first five months of Trump’s administration, compared to just 534 last year under former President Barack Obama.
In response, Salvadorian politicians have proposed new legislation to monitor and track the returning gang members.
"This clearly affects El Salvador. We already have a climate of violence in the country that we are combating,” Héctor Antonio Rodríguez, director of El Salvador’s immigration agency, told the Post.
"If gang members return, of course, this worries us,” he said.
Nayib Bukele, mayor of El Salvador’s capital city of San Salvador, expressed his concern to the Post that his city will feel the effects of the returning gang members over the coming months.
"Probably we won’t feel the symptoms today or tomorrow or the next week. But probably in six months or a year, we’ll be feeling the symptoms of what these deportations are causing now,” Bukele said.
To deal with the influx of returning gang members, the legislation proposed by Salvadorian politicians would require deportees with no criminal warrants to check in with police once a month.
It would also establish "internment centers” to serve as “halfway houses” for returning gang members to integrate them back into Salvadorian society.
MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, is a street gang comprised of mostly Salvadorians, Guatemalans and Hondurans founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s. The gang’s membership is more than 50,000, including thousands in the U.S. The gang participates in many different activities commonly associated with organized crime, including drug trafficking and murder, and is allied with many of Mexico’s most notorious drug cartels, such as the Sinaloa Cartel and Gulf Cartel.
Trump and his Justice Department, under the leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have vowed to crack down on criminal undocumented immigrants, especially gang members associated with MS-13.
Just two weeks ago, Trump vowed to eliminate MS-13 gangsters from U.S. streets "very soon."
"MS-13 is going to be gone from our streets very soon, believe me,” Trump said, according to the New York Post.
Sessions warned last month that his agency is “coming after” the violent gang members.
"The MS-13 motto is kill, rape and control,” Sessions said. “I have a message to the gangs that are targeting our young people: We are targeting you. We are coming after you."