Congresswoman Martha McSally

Representing the 2nd District of Arizona

U.S. Rep. McSally Questions Sec. Nielsen on Arizona Border Security Priorities: MS-13 Loopholes, Sanctuary Policies & National Guard Deployment

April 26, 2018
Press Release
McSally Invites DHS Secretary to tour Southwest Border in Her District

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative McSally today questioned U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen on Arizona’s border security priorities, including the dangers of sanctuary policies, closing the legal loopholes enticing MS-13 and other gangs to slip across the border, and the national guard. Congresswoman McSally highlighted how her legislation, the Securing America’s Future Act, would address all three priorities—closing those glaring loopholes, cracking down on sanctuary cities, and authorizing the National Guard to provide assistance at the border.

MS-13 Abuse of Legal Loopholes

First, Congresswoman McSally highlighted how the Yuma sector is a transition point for the MS-13 gang, a gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador and other Central American countries with the motto “kill, rape, control.” She also pointed to a joint DHS/DOJ MS-13 operation last year in which 25% of the 267 gang members arrested had entered the U.S. as UACs, as well as a 2017 “spot check” on an HHS facility where roughly 30% of the 138 teens being held had ties to MS-13 and other gangs. The Congresswoman was invited by the President to attend a roundtable with him at the White House to discuss cracking down on MS-13.

“Earlier this week, a Yuma sector border patrol apprehended 61 people who entered the U.S. illegally. During an initial interview, one of these individuals claimed to be an unaccompanied minor. He later admitted he was an adult and part of MS-13,” said Congresswoman McSally. “UACs from El Salvador and other Central American countries are given different treatment than those from Mexico or other countries like Canada and are allowed to remain in the United States only to disappear into the shadows. Is MS-13 using loopholes in our law to send individuals to the United States?”

In her answer, Secretary Nielsen affirmed that is the case and estimated that only 3.5% of unaccompanied minors are eventually removed.

The Danger of Sanctuary Policies

Congresswoman McSally next turned to the sanctuary policies of states like California to question the Secretary on how they are impacting the safety of communities in those states and around the nation.

“In California, according to DHS, 100 gang members, many of whom belonged to MS-13, were recently released in October 2016 to June 2017 because of their sanctuary policies,” said Congresswoman McSally. “So we have gang members and other violent felons and criminals who—because of these dangerous policies—and being released back into our communities to be a further danger, instead of being handed over to federal authorities in prison where it is safer for the community and safer for your agents. Can you speak to the dangers of that and what needs to be done?”

Secretary Nielsen emphasized that “Sanctuary cities protect criminals, not the community.” She detailed how agents have to go into the communities to contain the criminals, which puts both the community—and the immigrants in that community—as well as officers, at risk. She also noted how these policies “pit blue against blue, federal law enforcement against state law enforcement when they should be working together to protect our communities.”

National Guard Deployment to the Border

Finally, Congresswoman McSally restated her full support of having the National Guard deployed to the southwest border, and invited the Secretary to tour the border in her district to see the progress. Secretary Nielsen outlined how the National Guard is acting as a force multiplier for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Click HERE or below to watch their full exchange.