Harris slams Trump for linking young immigrants and MS-13

Camille Fine

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a potential White House contender in 2020, blasted President Trump on Tuesday night for linking young immigrants to members of the brutal criminal gang MS-13.

“MS-13 is an example of some of the worst of criminal gang behavior. To equate that with Dreamers and DACA was completely irresponsible and it was scapegoating and it was fear-mongering and it was wrong,” Harris said, speaking of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.

“It was wrong technically in terms of the nature and character populations, and in terms of the difference — in terms of who they are and how they live their lives,” she said. “And it was wrong because that’s not what leaders are supposed to do.”

Dreamers are immigrants who came to the country illegally at a young age and became eligible for protection from deportation under the DACA program that former President Obama set up in 2012.


MS-13 is a violent criminal gang with ties to El Salvador that has been linked to grisly killings around the country.

During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Trump began his call for immigration reform by recognizing two families from Long Island whose daughters had been killed by members of MS-13.

“Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors,” Trump said.

He pointed to two fathers and two mothers sitting in the gallery: Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado and Robert Mickens.

Their daughters were attacked and killed with baseball bats and machetes a year ago by members of MS-13.

Tonight I am calling on Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country,” Trump said.

He then went on to tout the “four pillars” of his immigration plan: creating a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million Dreamers; $25 billion for border security; further limiting visas for relatives of U.S. citizens; and ending the diversity visa lottery program.

Harris, a former prosecutor, argued that Trump acted irresponsibly by citing MS-13 crimes in attempting to justify his demand that broader immigration reforms be attached to helping Dreamers.

“We’re not supposed to convince the American public of policy because we make them afraid. And that’s what this president apparently thinks he needs to do and it’s irresponsible,” Harris said.

Harris is one of the leaders in Congress pledging opposition to government funding measures that fail to protect Dreamers from deportation. She said the administration should help young immigrants without getting any concessions from Democrats.

“This administration brought this issue upon itself frankly, and we are failing to keep our promise to these young people and I think it is imperative that we do that,” she said. “Let’s keep our promise to these young people.”

Trump rescinded DACA in September and gave Congress a March 5 deadline to pass immigration legislation to replace it. 

Tags deferred action for childhood arrivals Donald Trump Illegal immigration to the United States Kamala Harris Kamala Harris MS-13 SOTU 2018

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