In response to last week's controversy after President Trump referred to MS-13 gang members as "animals," the White House has published a handy primer on the organization.
After originating in Los Angeles during the 1980s, MS-13 has a heavy presence in California, Boston, New York City, Houston and elsewhere. Most of its members are originally from El Salvador and other Central American countries.
Via the White House (emphasis ours):
What You Need To Know About The Violent Animals Of MS-13
WHAT: The violent animals of MS-13 have committed heinous, violent attacks in communities across America.
Too many innocent Americans have fallen victim to the unthinkable violence of MS-13’s animals.
At the State of the Union in January 2018, President Trump brought as his guests Elizabeth Alvarado, Robert Mickens, Evelyn Rodriguez, and Freddy Cuevas, the parents of Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas. Police believe these young girls were chased down and brutally murdered by MS-13 gang members on Long Island, New York, in 2016. Suffolk County Police Commissioner stated that the “murders show a level of brutality that is close to unmatched.”
In Maryland, MS-13’s animals are accused of stabbing a man more than 100 times and then decapitating him, dismembering him, and ripping his heart out of his body. Police believe MS-13 members in Maryland also savagely beat a 15-year-old human trafficking victim. The MS-13 animals used a bat and took turns beating her nearly 30 times in total.
In Houston, Texas, two MS-13 members were charged after kidnapping and sexually assaulting one girl and murdering another. The two MS-13 animals laughed, smiled, and waved for cameras in court as they faced the charges.
New York communities have suffered tremendously from the abhorrent violence of MS-13. Nearly 40 percent of all murders in Suffolk County, New York between January 2016 and June 2017 were tied to MS-13.
In January 2017, MS-13 members were charged with killing and hacking up a teenager in Nassau County. MS-13’s animals reportedly saw the murder as a way to boost their standing in the gang. In April 2017, police believe four young men were brutally murdered by MS-13 animals on Long Island. One victim was a young man in town visiting family during an Easter week vacation. Just last month, in April 2018, MS-13 reportedly called for its members on Long Island to kill a cop for the sake of making a statement.
WHY: MS-13 is a transnational gang which follows the motto of “kill, rape, control” by committing shocking acts of violence in an attempt to instill fear and gain control.
MS-13 is a transnational gang that has brought violence, fear, and suffering to American communities. MS-13, short for Mara Salvatrucha, commits shocking acts of violence to instill fear, including machete attacks, executions, gang rape, human trafficking, and more. In their motto, the animals of MS-13 make clear their goal is to “kill, rape, control.” The gang has more than 10,000 members in the United States spreading violence and suffering.
Recent investigations have revealed 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 foreign-based gang leaders direct local members to become even more violent in an effort to control more territory.
President Trump’s entire Administration is working tirelessly to bring these violent animals to justice.
After Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims expressed her frustrations with the federal government to the president regarding the handling of MS-13 gang members, Trump said the following:
“You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.”
Dozens of media outlets only shared Trump's response to Simms, completely omitting the context. This made it appear as if Trump was calling all immigrants "animals," not just members of MS-13.
After being called out, the Associated Press deleted a tweet:
AP has deleted a tweet from late Wednesday on Trump’s “animals” comment about immigrants because it wasn’t made clear that he was speaking after a comment about gang members.— The Associated Press (@AP) May 17, 2018
Clarifying his comments, Trump said on Thursday: “So when the MS-13 comes in, when the other gang members come into our country, I refer to them as animals. And guess what? I always will ... But we’re getting them out by the thousands. But it’s a big, dangerous job. And they’re able, in some cases, to come back in or new groups come in also from the gangs.”
Democrats, meanwhile, doubled down - and began defending MS-13.
Pelosi first alluded to God, saying, “Some of us who are attracted to the political arena, to government and public service” believe that “we are all God’s children” and “there is a spark of divinity among every person on earth, and we all have to recognize that as we respect the dignity and worth of every person.”
She went on to say we must recognize that divinity in others, and it is our responsibility to do so because we have “divinity in us.”
Pelosi then took a soundbite that has been perpetuated throughout the media out of context from the president’s comments on MS-13 gang members and attributed it to all immigrants. “So when the president of the United States says about undocumented immigrants, ‘These aren’t people, these are animals,’ you have to wonder, does he not believe in the spark of divinity, the dignity and worth of every person?’ -Daily Caller
Taking the MS-13 defense to a whole other level, writer Rob Rousseau tweeted "I would rather my daughter dated a member of MS-13 than a member of the Republican Party."
I would rather my daughter dated a member of MS-13 than a member of the Republican Party— Rob Rousseau (@robrousseau) May 17, 2018
"You want the best for your children. Not the worst," Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said on "Fox & Friends."
"MS-13's motto: Kill, rape, control ... That's what you want dating your daughter?"
Patrick Ryder: “Trump is a great supporter of law enforcement.” pic.twitter.com/UBqNHTHb7W— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 21, 2018
On Wednesday, President Trump will travel to New York for an immigration event on Long Island's Morrelly Homeland Security Center, where he is expected to talk about the need to rid the country of the violent gang.