MS-13 crime increased during the Obama years due to an influx of illegal immigrants and reduced enforcement of immigration law, according to a new study by the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports tough measures to combat illegal immigration.
The study ties the increase in crime to a changes to Bush administration policies made by the Obama administration.
From the study:
The Trump administration has declared war on MS-13, the notoriously brutal gang based in El Salvador. A similar initiative launched by the Bush administration in 2005 stifled the gang’s activity after several years, but the gang has been able to rebuild itself here since 2012.
The resurgence is directly connected to the illegal arrival and resettlement of more than 300,000 Central American youths and families that has continued unabated for six years, and to a de-prioritization of immigration enforcement in the interior of the country that occurred at the same time.
All criminal gangs are a threat to public safety, but MS-13 is a unique problem because of the unusually brutal crimes its members have committed, its success in using intimidation to victimize and control people in its territory, and its focus on recruiting young members, often in schools . . .
The proliferation of sanctuary policies that interfere with cooperation between state and local law enforcement agencies threatens to hamper efforts to stifle MS-13 activity.
MS-13 crimes are not primarily petty nuisance crimes; 207 MS-13 members were charged with murder. In addition we found more than 100 accused of conspiracy/racketeering, and dozens of others for drug trafficking, sex trafficking, attempted murder, sexual assaults, and extortion.
The gang activity subsided for a time following successful disruption and dismantling efforts, including ICE”s Operation Community Shield, which began in 2005. A key element in that success was the assertive use of immigration law enforcement tools . . . Documented gang members often were arrested on administrative immigration violations, which had the effect of disrupting the gang’s activities and ridding communities of troublemakers. In addition, these lower-level arrests often led to more significant criminal investigations of gang leaders and the dismantling of local MS-13 cliques.
The Obama administration revised these policies, however, and ICE field offices were directed to cease efforts to disrupt gangs by arresting members for immigration violations or minor crimes and instead focus on major conspiracy cases. ICE officers were no longer permitted to arrest and remove foreign gang members until they had been convicted of major crimes. Gang arrests by ICE plummeted from about 4,600 in 2012 to about 1,580 in 2014.
Bolding is mine. H/T Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner.