Attorney General Jeff Sessions took aim at gangs Tuesday, and said sanctuary cities failure to cooperate with federal immigration authorities "dangerously undermines'' gang enforcement efforts.
Sessions specifically cited a resurgence of the violent criminal gang Mara Salvatrucha, known as MS-13. He said failure to properly enforce the nation’s immigration laws has allowed the criminal group, which draws members from Central American immigrant groups, to flourish, USA Today reports.
The attorney general said the gang, which began in Los Angeles in 1980s and is largely headquartered in the prisons of El Salvador, numbers more than 10,000 in the United States. Sessions, citing data compiled by the National Gang Intelligence Center, said membership has been rising "significantly'' in recent years, broadening their extortion, human trafficking and illegal drug distribution enterprises.
"Harboring criminal aliens only helps violent gangs like MS-13,'' Sessions told a meeting of the Organized Crime Council, a consortium of agencies across the government. "Sanctuary cities are aiding these cartels to refill their ranks and putting innocent life — including the lives of countless law-abiding immigrants — in danger.''