Donald Trump rose to the defense of ICE on Saturday, saying he has seen the controversial immigration law enforcement agency liberate “entire towns” from the grips of the MS-13 gang. No one else seems to have any knowledge of this happening, however.
Trump has frequently focused on the violent gang in his bid to crack down on illegal immigration, using their crimes as justification for his hardline policies, but in doing so has frequently been accused of lying and making up incidents that simply never happened. That is the case with Trump’s latest tweet, in which he claimed ICE is responsible for ridding MS-13 from towns which the gang had taken over.
But as many quickly noted, there is no evidence of ICE “liberating” towns from the gang. This is a frequent claim for the president, and Donald Trump has been criticized before for making claims that MS-13 had taken over entire towns and cities. As CNN noted, his statement about the street gang overrunning towns and cities “contained a number of misstatements or claims that were impossible to back up with evidence.”
Neither the White House nor other federal agencies could explain what Trump meant by the remark, the report noted.
“It was also entirely unclear which cities and town Trump meant were ‘literally taken over’ by MS-13, which remains a small fraction of the overall gang problem in the US, per available statistics,” the report noted. “Neither the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement nor the White House responded to a request for clarification.”
The report added that the MS-13 gang actually originated in the United States in Los Angeles among Salvadoran immigrants, and only spread to Central America after some of the gang members were deported there. The report found that less than 1 percent of arrests from an ICE anti-gang activity were members of MS-13 in the United States illegally.
This isn’t the first time Trump has made a claim about ICE “liberating” towns, though when he’s said it before, he’s added that people were then dancing in the streets, or something to that effect. Maybe he ran out of characters?
— Gabe #DreamActNow Ortíz (@TUSK81) June 30, 2018
What the hell is this lunatic talking about? He’s liberated cities via ICE that were under MS-13 control? He can’t name one city where that’s the case. Trump has officially fallen off the deep end. Crazier than ever. Unhinged, unfit and unqualified. He should resign yesterday. https://t.co/noX7Ph9Qzu
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) June 30, 2018
As The Hill noted, Trump’s latest unsubstantiated tweet comes amid growing calls from the left to abolish ICE and reorganize the immigration law enforcement agency. His statement also came the same day as nationwide protests against Trump’s hardline immigration stance and his administration’s policy separating immigrant children from their families and on ICE for allegedly terrorizing immigrant communities with what opponents believe are unjustified arrests.
The Democrats are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen. I have watched ICE liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13 & clean out the toughest of situations. They are great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2018
— The Hill (@thehill) June 27, 2018
Since his tweet and the criticism it caused, Donald Trump has not explained which towns that ICE has liberated from the grasp of MS-13.