A prominent Florida Republican who is calling for Congress to pass his bill removing illegal aliens who are part of gangs thinks he has a key ally in President Donald Trump.
Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., a senior Republican on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, noted that there are reports of MS-13 gang members targeting police officers, saying it underscores why Congress needs to pass his “Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act.”
Buchanan brought out the bill in January but pushed it again in March. Buchanan’s office showcased the bill which “would allow the immediate deportation of any member of a gang engaged in crimes of violence or felony drug offenses, even if they have been legally admitted to the country.” The bill also “disqualifies these dangerous individuals from immigration benefits including receiving asylum protections or temporary protected status.” Under current law, being part of a gang does not lead to automatic deportation.
“We can’t allow vicious gangs like MS-13 to enter or live in the United States,” Buchanan said when he highlighted the bill in March. “My bill would help ensure these criminals don’t slip through the cracks and threaten the lives of law enforcement and ordinary citizens.”
“When these violent gang members brazenly plot to assassinate law enforcement officers, I have one response – deport them immediately!” Buchanan added. “Strengthening our laws and securing our southern border is necessary – there should be nothing controversial about that. America is a nation of immigrants but also a nation of laws.”
Buchanan waded back into the matter this week, penning a piece at Fox News in which he praised Trump’s handling of MS-13.
“Attorney General Bill Barr traveled to El Salvador this week with the goal of protecting Americans from dangerous gang members crossing the border into our country,” Buchanan wrote. “This included meetings with his counterparts in the Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) to stanch the flow of violence, drugs, and human trafficking that is afflicting the U.S. and the region.
“Americans are victim to the violence emanating from the MS-13 gang’s base in El Salvador. In fact, MS-13 members in the U.S. often follow orders from gang leaders in the Central American nation,” Buchanan added. “Barr stated, ‘We have to eradicate these gangs wherever we find them before they threaten the safety of all of our communities. In order to incapacitate MS-13 and similar groups, we will use all lawful tools within and outside our borders to make sure these criminals face justice.’ I couldn’t agree more and I applaud the Trump administration for making this a priority.
“The gang’s disregard for human life is evident in its motto ‘mata, viola, controla’ – which means ‘kill, rape, control.’ MS-13 takes pride in their heinous acts of violence and savagery. For example, one victim was stabbed 100 times, decapitated and then set on fire. Another victim was kidnapped, hacked to pieces with a machete and then shot. The bloodthirsty gang is also known for their brazen plots to assassinate law enforcement officers – and are reportedly targeting New York police in order to build street credibility for themselves.”
Buchanan made a push fro his bill in the Fox News piece.
“It is unfathomable that loopholes in our legal system give safe haven to more than 10,000 MS-13 members in our communities,” he wrote. “On the first day of the 116th Congress, I introduced the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act. My legislation would allow for the immediate deportation of any member of a gang engaged in crimes of violence or felony drug offenses, even if they have been legally admitted to the country. Under current law they could not be deported solely because of their affiliation with a criminal gang. We can’t allow vicious gangs like MS-13 to enter or reside in America. President Trump has called on Congress to ‘finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country.’ With Barr’s trip to San Salvador, the Trump administration is demonstrating its ironclad commitment to taking down MS-13.”
Buchanan called on U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to have Congress vote on his bill. The bill is before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee but so far Buchanan hasn’t reeled in any cosponsors.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.