September 26, 2017

 

After recent House approval of her bill to crack down on alien gang members, U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) requested an update on FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) efforts to fight transnational gangs.

Comstock and U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, requested the update on Friday in letters to FBI Director Christopher Wray and ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan.

The lawmakers cited a Department of Justice report that 10,000 members of the transnational gang MS-13 are operating in 40 states and the District of Columbia, and they pointed to joint federal investigations like Operation Matador in New York as potential models for law enforcers going forward.

“While the violence and rash of criminal activity at the hands of MS-13 may be starting to abate in New York, elsewhere in the United States, these criminal enterprises continue to thrive and commit barbaric criminal acts with seeming impunity,” the letter states. “In the shadow of our nation’s capital, our home state of Virginia has been witness to horrific violent crimes linked to this gang.”

The letter cites the recent murders of teenagers from Virginia and Maryland by suspected members of MS-13 as examples of the gang threat in communities nationwide.

“We believe it is necessary for law enforcement to utilize all tools at its disposal, while affirming our strong commitments to the rule of law,” the letter states. “It is incumbent upon Congress to provide sufficient tools to ensure that law enforcement can better target, apprehend, prosecute and, where appropriate, deport violent criminals from the United States. To that end, we would welcome any legislative proposals you would recommend to give the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement the additional tools necessary to carry out this critical mission.”

The Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act, which Comstock and Goodlatte led to House approval earlier this month, would prevent alien gang members from entering the country, remove those that take part in gang activity and deny immigration benefits to alien gang members.

“Transnational criminal gangs pose a threat that can no longer be ignored,” the letter states. “These murders are reprehensible and demand an immediate and decisive response. We must attack this problem from both the criminal justice and immigration standpoints to ensure that such vicious crimes are not repeated.”

 

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