President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE on Wednesday linked Democrats to MS-13, claiming the two are the primary opponents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
"The two biggest opponents of ICE in America today are the Democratic Party and MS-13!" Trump tweeted.
The two biggest opponents of ICE in America today are the Democratic Party and MS-13!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2018
Some progressive Democrats have joined left-wing calls to "abolish ICE" in recent weeks, following enormous public outcry over the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy. After reports emerged last month that the policy had resulted in the separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents, multiple Democrats came out against the agency, claiming it was over-extending its original mission.
Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a resolution to support ICE, following a highly politicized back-and-forth between Democratic and GOP leaders over a separate measure that would have abolished ICE and shifted its responsibilities to other agencies.
Trump has lambasted Democrats' calls to eliminate the agency.
"To the great and brave men and women of ICE, do not worry or lose your spirit," Trump tweeted on June 30. "The radical left Dems want you out. Next it will be all police. Zero chance, It will never happen!"
He also said ICE employees are "the guys that go in and take MS-13, and they take them out," calling them "much tougher than MS-13, like by a factor of 10."
The president has continually stoked fears over MS-13, a gang that has held steady at around 10,000 members in the U.S. for the past ten years. Its members are concentrated in a few U.S. cities.
A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll indicated Trump's inflammatory rhetoric that MS-13 members are "infesting" the U.S. is successfully frightening his base. An overwhelming majority of Trump voters told pollsters they see MS-13 as a threat to the United States.
Trump often evokes MS-13 as a rationale for his hard-line immigration policies, although a majority of immigrants from Central America are fleeing gang violence rather than participating in it, according to ProPublica.