White House press release on MS-13 backs Trump’s labeling immigrants as “violent animals”
23 May 2018
On Monday May 21st, the White House issued a press release ominously entitled “What you need to know about the violent animals of MS-13.” The release, issued in advance of Donald Trump’s visit to Long Island, uses the word “animals” ten times to describe members of the MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, gang, which has been presented by the Trump administration as the logical culmination of uncontrolled, undocumented migration across the border.
The press release describes several violent acts committed by members of the gang, depicting MS-13 as a “transnational gang” that “commits shocking acts of violence to instill fear, including machete attacks, executions, gang rape, human trafficking, and more.”
It further makes the unsubstantiated claim that “MS-13 gang leaders based in El Salvador have been sending representatives into the United States illegally to connect the leaders with local gang members.” These illegal border crossings, the White House concludes, have been the source of increasingly violent turf battles.
Going through the press release, one could be forgiven for thinking that the United States has been overrun by MS-13, portrayed as a virtual army of undocumented immigrants raping and murdering citizens across the country with impunity. The reality, however, is quite different.
As the New York Times noted in March, MS-13 members are located predominantly in just three metropolitan areas near Los Angeles, California, Long Island, New York and Washington, DC. Formed in central Los Angeles in the 1980s by Salvadoran refugees fleeing a civil war that claimed the lives of at least 75,000 people—the vast majority…