Immigration agents planning raids next week targeting teenage gang members
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are reportedly planning nationwide raids next week targeting suspected teenage gang members for arrest and deportation.
Reuters reported Friday that ICE will target 16- and 17-year-old suspected gang members in raids Sunday through Wednesday. The effort is part of a widening of President Trump’s enforcement of immigration laws.
The move marks a sharp change in policy from the Obama administration, Reuters noted. Under former President Barack Obama, minors could be targeted for deportation after being convicted of crimes, but not simply for gang membership.
In a statement to the news outlet, ICE said that teenagers can be identified in their database as gang members if they meet two or more criteria of gang identifiers, including having gang tattoos, wearing gang apparel or being frequently spotted in an area known for heavy gang activity.
The change in policy is likely to be controversial, especially since it targets minors.
In a statement to Reuters, the National Immigration Law Center warned that ICE’s database often contains incorrect information.
“This is troubling on several levels,” executive director Marielena Hincapie said. “For one, the gang databases in places like California are rife with errors. We have seen babies labeled as potential gang members.”
In April, Trump turned the spotlight in the immigration debate to violent gangs like MS-13. In a series of tweets, Trump blamed Obama’s immigration policies for allowing the gangs to flourish.
Trump tweeted in April that “weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS 13 gangs to form in cities across U.S,” and has promised to deport members of the gang in rallies since taking office.
“You have a gang called MS-13. They don’t like to shoot people. They like to cut people. They do things that nobody can believe,” Trump said at a rally in June.