According to government statistics cited by the Washington Post, in the first five months of Trump’s presidency nearly 400 MS-13 members have been deported, compared to 534 in the last year of former President Barack Obama’s term.
The country’s Immigration Agency director Héctor Antonio Rodríguez told the Post, "This clearly affects El Salvador. We already have a climate of violence in the country that we are combating … If gang members return, of course, this worries us."
Salvadoran officials are proposing new legislation to deal with the influx, which would establish intermediate housing for the gang members and require those with no criminal warrants to make monthly check-ins with the police.
Founded in the 1980s in Los Angeles, MS-13 is comprised chiefly of Salvadorans, Hondurans and Guatemalans, with an estimated membership of 50,000. The group is involved in all manner of organized crime, with connections to violent Mexican drug cartels like the Gulf and Sinaloa syndicates.
Purging the US of the gang members is a part of the Justice Department’s effort to address the presence of undocumented immigrants, with a special focus on MS-13.
Last month Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Department was "coming after" the gang, saying, "The MS-13 motto is kill, rape and control … I have a message to the gangs that are targeting our young people: We are targeting you. We are coming after you."
Sessions’ comments came after four young people, the youngest of them sixteen, had been found brutally murdered near a soccer field in Long Island. Members of MS-13 are suspected of being responsible.
Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson described the gang, saying, "Unlike ISIS, MS-13 makes it hard to live in certain neighborhoods here in this country. Also unlike ISIS, there are a lot of them," adding that "MS-13 is fundamentally a foreign threat. Now, the administration is using a lot of firepower to defeat insurgents in the Middle East right now and good for them. But what about the insurgency right down the road from you here in America? Because that’s exactly what it is."
During a recent Capitol Hill ceremony celebrating fallen police officers, Trump said, "MS-13 is going to be gone from our streets very soon, believe me," according to the New York Post.