Trump to stop aid to countries that don’t act against MS-13 gang migrants

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NEW YORK: United States (US) President Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that he was working on a plan to reduce US aid to countries he says are doing nothing to stop MS-13 gang members from crossing into the United States illegally.

“We are looking at our whole aid structure and it’s going to be changed very radically,” Trump told a roundtable discussion about the threat posed by the violent gang.

MS-13, or the Mara Salvatrucha gang, was founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s in part to protect immigrants from El Salvador and has since grown into a sprawling cross-border criminal organization.

It has 30,000 members worldwide and 10,000 in the United States, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Trump has made the fight against the gang a major part of his drive to stem the flow of immigrants illegally entering the US.

Last week, he called gang members “animals”, drawing criticism from Democrats and the Mexican government.

“I called them animals the other day and I was met with rebuke,” Trump said at Wednesday’s event in the Long Island community of Bethpage, New York.

Trump was joined at the event by Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Rod Rosenstein, who has drawn criticism from the president for his handling of a federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Rosenstein said MS-13 gang members were preying on unaccompanied children who cross into the United States illegally, most of whom must be released from custody.

“Some develop gang ties,” Rosenstein added.

 

Illegal border crossings fell to record lows last year with about 15,700 immigrants arrested along the US-Mexico border in April 2017.