President Donald Trump will host law enforcement and elected officials at the White House on Tuesday to discuss closing what a White House official called “loopholes” that make it more difficult to combat the MS-13 gang.
The event will feature stories from law enforcement officials, the official said, with some of the officers discussing specific stories about how they fought the gang and what could have helped them.
Trump has made combating Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a central focus of his first year in office, pairing efforts to combat the gang with his hardline immigration policy. The Central American gang, which originated decades ago among Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles and has since built an extensive network of gangs across the country, currently has an estimated 10,000 members.
Trump slammed the gang during his first State of the Union address last month, saying it has “caused the loss of many innocent lives” and “took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.”
The President will continue to make that case on Tuesday, according to the official, who said Trump is expected to address so-called “catch-and-release” policy and will argue it makes it more difficult to combat MS-13.
John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff and lead aide handling immigration reform, will be in the meeting, along with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services Francis Cissna and Commissioner Kevin McAleenan of US Customs and Border Protection.
Reps. Peter King and Lee Zeldin, both Republicans from New York, will attend the event. MS-13 has built thriving pockets in Long Island, just an hour outside of New York City.
Additionally, Republican Reps. Martha McSally of Arizona, Michael McCaul of Texas and Barbara Comstock of Virginia will all attend the event.