Facing the bluster and blister of Donald Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions flew to El Salvador Thursday to explore new avenues to eradicate the notorious street gang MS-13.
Sessions’ trip follows a scourge of harsh remarks directed towards so-called ‘sanctuary cities,’ which resist cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Police officers in ‘sanctuaries’ like Chicago and Los Angeles don’t ask for the immigration status of individuals they encounter in the course of duty.
Proponents of the policy say it helps drive crime rates down by encouraging undocumented aliens to report crime without having to fear deportation.
The stance taken by the Trump administration has claimed the opposite, with Sessions frequently pointing to MS-13 as a beneficiary of sanctuary city practices.
“Their motto is ‘kill, rape, control.’ And that is what they do every day,” said Sessions, speaking from Philadelphia. “To take MS-13 off our streets, we need cooperation between law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels. Unfortunately, this cooperation has been impeded by the policies of some cities and states. Some jurisdictions in this country refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and turn over illegal aliens who commit crimes – even MS-13 gang members.”
The Attorney General’s remarks didn’t sit well with the Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, who shot back at Sessions by saying the city’s crime rates were at an all-time low.
Nevertheless, Sessions is evidently striving to back up his longstanding rhetoric on MS-13 with action.
He boarded a San Salvador-bound plane Thursday morning with several aides, as well as leaders from the Justice Department’s criminal division.
The nation’s top prosecutor plans to meet with his Salvadorian counterpart, Douglas Melendez.
While in El Salvador, Sessions is planning to meet with members of an international law enforcement task force, as well as former members of MS-13.
The gang – sometimes referred to in full as Mara Salvatrucha – came into being during the 1980s, expanding from Los Angeles into Latin America after many of its members were imprisoned and later deported.
MS-13 is notorious for the violence of its crimes, often making use of machetes, hammers, and other blunt instruments in its bloodshed. The gang was behind a number of high-profile acts of violence on American soil, including the killings of four young men in a Long Island park.
Although Donald Trump claims lax security brought about by the Obama Administration allowed MS-13 to flourish, prosecutors under the previous president took what the Christian Science Monitor refers to as ‘unprecedented steps to target the gang’s finances.’
Sessions’ seemingly spur-of-the-moment flight may be a move to mend a rift between the Attorney General and commander-in-chief.
Donald Trump lashed out at Sessions earlier in July, saying he would have picked another man for the prosecutorial post if he’d known the Attorney General would recuse himself from the ongoing Russia investigation.