On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., questioned Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, during a hearing titled the “Juvenile Justice Pipeline and the Road Back to Integration” for the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.
Steube: “We have heard testimony today about violent crimes committed by juveniles associated with MS-13 and other Central American gangs, including murder and rape.
We have also seen violent juvenile crime right here in Washington, D.C. This March in Southwest DC, 13- and 15-year-old girls murdered a food delivery driver in an attempt to steal his car. He was just trying to do his job and they killed him in broad daylight a little over a mile from where we sit right now.
Violence like this occurs all over the country.
For instance, in 2014 in Tacoma, Washington a 15-year-old shot a man at close range with a rifle during a carjacking. According to a letter by the victims’ family to the sentencing court, the victim lost use of his arm for a period and was left not fully able to work or care for his daughter. The victim is lucky to be alive after he was shot. The teenager convicted of these crimes would go on to be charged with a felony count of rioting in prison just two years ago. The convict I am referring to is Mr. Toleafoa and he is here today testifying by invitation of the Chair about how he needs more opportunities in prison.
Despite the horrific nature of these crimes, we continue to hear calls to not fully prosecute the criminals that are responsible for these crimes. It is all part of the ‘defund the police’ agenda. For example, a prominent spokeswoman for Black Lives Matter movement recently said that teenagers have been fighting, and I quote, ‘with knives for eons’ and ‘we don’t need police to address these situations by showing up to the scene and using a weapon.’ So, I guess police are just supposed to let people stab each other. This is a dangerous ideology and combined with the flow of criminals at the southern border its made even more dangerous.
Mrs. Vaughan, I have a couple of questions.
In your testimony you describe MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang as, I quote, “extremely vicious and unusually degenerate.” Can you provide some further examples of the crimes they commit and how juveniles are involved in those crimes?”
Vaughan: “Well, um, there are numerous examples of this. We have examined about 500 cases of MS-13 arrests nationwide in the last 15 years, and there are sometimes unspeakable violence associated with these crimes. Whether its hacking off people limbs, or luring people to parks in order to dismember them and bury the bodies. Some of the victims have not been fellow gang members, or sometimes they use who they thought might’ve been involved with a rival gang, or are simply people who were killed because these kids are trying to prove their value to the gang and are expected to carry out random senseless violence in order to be accepted into the gang, and they are eager to do that. They will pick out random victims to do that.
These gangs lure in kids in a very predatory and frightening way and that also makes it difficult for them to escape from the gangs. But my researching of both state databases and other federal crimes has found that these transnational gangs and, MS-13 in particular, are especially prone to violence. That many of these members are violent by the time they get here, and are less afraid of the consequences from law-enforcement, which makes them bolder, less wary of committing violence against a police officer for example. Or a teacher, or a kid who is not involved in the gang. It is it is a problem exacerbated by our failure to control the entry of these individuals over our border. It’s one that is making it hard for kids who are in the same schools to get meaningful education, to avoid in entanglement with these gangs, and it’s ruining the quality of life in some neighborhoods.
Steube: “Well you just hit on the challenges that were seeing at the border and how this is causing increase in crime especially with juveniles. Under Biden’s border policies violent criminal gang members under the age of 16 are not subject to removal. Can you explain the consequences of this and how MS-13 will exploit this?”
Vaughan: “Well the gangs are well aware of the policies, they know more about our border policies than most Americans do. They know that a kid who arrives and claims to be under the age of 18 will likely be lightly screened, if we happen to have their fingerprints they might be interrupted, and the Border Patrol is catching more gang members than ever before the border. But usually they’re sent to a residential facility with the other kids, where they also have the opportunity to recruit, and eventually released to sponsors who are very lightly vetted, often not fingerprinted or submitted to rigorous background checks, and they’re free in the community to work for the gang to work other jobs and live here indefinitely and often even receive permanent residency here.
Steube: “Thank you for your testimony here today my time is expired. I yield back to the chair.”