In Suffolk County, New York, a jury has found Leniz Escobar guilty in connection with the 2017 murder of four Long Island teenagers by MS-13 gang members.
The woman known as “La Diablita” lured five teens into thinking they were going to smoke marijuana, only to be ambushed by dozens of MS-13 gang members wielding machetes and bats. The mangled bodies were later found in a Central Islip park.
The murders prompted former President Trump and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to visit Long Island, spotlighting the criminal effects of lax immigration and unvetted “open borders.”
With spring approaching, the Department of Homeland Security anticipates a surge in border encounters, predicting 18,000 migrants a day, not including those DHS doesn’t encounter. Some fear migrants will not be properly vetted, allowing criminals, including gang members, into the country.
The Biden administration plans to reduce the number of detention center beds by 9,000. If the current administration does not start enforcing the “remain in Mexico” policy, formally known as Migrant Protection Protocols, those individuals may not be properly vetted and accounted for. To add to the mix, Title 42, a Trump administration public health and welfare law that restricts immigration during health emergencies is currently set to end on May 23.
Ira Mehlman, media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), said Title 42 is essentially all that remains of U.S. border security. In President Biden’s first year, almost 2.2 million migrants were apprehended, with 63 percent being Title 42 expulsions.
In February, “55 percent of those who were apprehended coming across the border illegally were returned to Mexico under Title 42,” Mehlman told me. “There are also a lot of people who are simply coming through and not being apprehended, and we know even less about those people.”
Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney expressed similar concerns, like that of the vetting of migrants. “There is virtually no vetting, and there really can’t be any vetting because these individuals are just that, undocumented,” Tierney told me in an interview.
The first-year district attorney who has prosecuted more than 50 homicides involving hundreds of MS-13 defendants said gangs have a firmer grasp of the immigration system, working in conjunction with coyotes. “You have a whole bunch of individuals, including a large number of gang members coming through the borders because there are established MS-13 gangs here,” Tierney said, noting the different cliques and their territories.
“The Carleton [clique] is a bastardization of Carlton Avenue in Central Islip,” said Mr. Tierney, referring to Central Islip as “ground zero for MS-13.” MS-13 gang violence thrives “where rivals exist,” he said, which goes along with the gang’s philosophy of using murder as a currency and “disrespect” as a means to target.
He said the Biden administration “entices gang members” to enter illegally, contributing to the violence and the opioid crisis in Suffolk County. “You’re dumping these people on these underserved communities, and you’re not providing a commensurate amount of money for these communities to support these new arrivals,” said the Suffolk County DA.
President Biden intends to speed up the immigration court proceedings with an additional 100 justices and $6.3 billion allocated for refugee resettlement. At least 12 million illegal immigrants already inhabit the United States, or nearly 4 percent of the nation’s population.
Almost 30 percent of ICE immigrant detainees have criminal records, with more than 20,000 in detention facilities. Within that subset, MS-13 operates with 10,000 members under various banners or “cliques” across the US. 749 gang members were convicted during the Trump administration, with 74 percent being undocumented migrants.
Lax enforcement of existing immigration policy may not be a unique experience for Long Island. Unfettered immigration is not only a contributor to gang crime but also a strain on state and local resources.