WASHINGTON – At a hearing of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, questioned witnesses on how the violent Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang exploits legal immigration loopholes to enter the United States. Under current law, unaccompanied children (UAC) apprehended at the southern border are admitted to the U.S., transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), and often placed with sponsors around the United States.
On April 24, 2018, Sen. Johnson sent a letter to ORR about 64 UACs arrested in Operation Raging Bull, a joint Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security operation targeting MS-13. The Operation Raging Bull led to the arrest of 267 MS-13 gang members, 64 of which entered the United States as UACs. The letter requested that ORR provide the locations where ORR placed these 64 UACs. The letter can be found here.
Sen. Johnson also appeared on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom” and spoke about the caravan approaching the southern border. His appearance can be found here.
Excerpts from Senator Johnson’s remarks during the hearing today are below and video can be found here.
“Let me just quote the numbers, since 2013, 195,000 unaccompanied children have been led into this country. 275,000 family units, to be conservative times two, that’s 550,000 people. You and your agencies are forced to deal with 750,000 very sympathetic, humanitarian-crisis individuals.”
“Secretary Nielsen in a statement she issued on the caravan, I’ll quote, ‘The smugglers, traffickers, and criminals understand our legal immigration loopholes better than congress and are effectively exploiting them to their advantage.’ And to the horrible disadvantage of the children that are being exploited. So I’d like to concentrate on our broken legal immigration system and let’s stop the flow. Let’s end the incentives for all that illegal immigration.”
“The fact of the matter is only three percent of unaccompanied children who come to this country illegally are ever returned. And that creates a huge incentive for more to come.”
“The fact of the matter is they have slipped through the cracks, and I’ll give some other evidence. In Houston, I think, the FBI, one of their task forces identified six homicides created by individuals who went into this country as UACs. That’s just in Houston. So again, this is the enormity of the challenge. I’ll just end, again, the root cause of this problem, the goal of our policy ought to be: fix our broken legal immigration system, do everything we can to reduce and stop the flow so your agencies don’t have to deal with hundreds of thousands of individuals in this case.”