Flipping the MS-13-gangsters-as-animals script, a new study blames President Donald Trump’s immigration policies for everything from “community tensions” to “exploiting public fear.”

In a 59-page report long on rhetoric but short on evidence, the New York Immigrant Coalition and CUNY’s Immigrant and Non-Citizen Rights Clinic allow that “MS-13 is undoubtedly violent,” yet assure that “the gang is not, by far, responsible for the majority of crimes committed” in New York.

The majority of crimes? That’s a pretty high bar, which leaves a lot of clearance below.


The authors take particular umbrage at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s “Operation Matador,” which “targets violent gang members and their associates” (as if that were a bad thing).

“The most troubling aspect of Matador is that it leads to increased local law enforcement collaboration with ICE,” the study notes. Horrors!

Without evidence, “Swept Up in the Sweep” declares, “By broadly casting immigrant Latinx [the gender-neutral term for Latino and Latina]youth as gang members to be targeted for incarceration and deportation, even the outward pretense of basic rights and due process is pushed to the side.” 

Support for these sweeping assertions come from an “interactions survey” of immigration lawyers, advocates, and community leaders. “The accounts shared of impacted individuals are filtered through perspectives of self-selected service providers,” the report explains, while neglecting to enumerate – or even mention — MS-13 crimes.

Confirmation bias, anyone?

Loaded up with anecdotes, the study’s authors downplay or dismiss actual criminal evidence gathered by the Department of Homeland Security, which includes matches in national, state and local gang databases; police reports; arrest records; school records; ICE interviews; Homeland Security Investigations reports; and detention records.

All of which leads to the report’s inevitable and illogical recommendation: Eliminate gang databases altogether.

Amid its dubious claims and misguided assumptions, the report does contain one grain of truth. To wit: DHS does not need to make any showing of gang affiliation to initiate removal proceedings.

“Being undocumented alone is a sufficient basis,” the authors acknowledge.

Wherever MS-13 members fall on the zoological ladder, reasonable humans can stand on that point of immigration law.

Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006.

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