No, Whistleblower Revelation of MS-13 'Children' Does Not Harm Investigation

By Dan Cadman on May 26, 2017

On May 24, the Washington Times carried this item: "Obama admin knew gang members were part of illegal immigrant surge: Whistleblower".

My colleague Jessica Vaughan has already posted on the matter, but bear with me for a few moments here.

The Washington Times article reports that a whistleblower from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provided to the Senate Homeland Security Committee documents establishing that under the Obama administration at least 16 known members of the infamous gang MS-13, all in their late teens, were released into the United States as "unaccompanied alien children" (UACs) rather than being subjected to expedited removal proceedings to quickly eject them. This happened in 2014 during the ongoing surge of UACs and family members who came to our southern border in the tens of thousands and were resettled in lieu of prompt removal hearings, thus perpetuating the surge, which went on for years.

None of this should be a surprise to anyone familiar with either the Obama White House's deliberately ineffectual handling of the surge and treatment of so-called UACs or with its extra-statutory and sloppily executed administrative "Dreamer's" amnesty program known as DACA (deferred action for childhood arrivals).

The evidence has been manifest that any number of so-called UACs were not, in fact, "unaccompanied"; some weren't even minors, but took advantage of the lack of available vital statistics to claim to be younger; and in many cases, they were already involved in gangs in their homelands, as was the case with the 16 the senator has revealed.

The evidence is also manifest that with the pressure to approve-approve-approve, many recipients of DACA program benefits weren't truly eligible and should have been screened out for gang affiliations.

Another of my colleagues, Joseph Kolb, has written a series of Backgrounders for the Center on these two intertwined subjects (see here, here, and here).

Now we come to the point of this post. The whistleblower's information was shared with the public by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), the committee's chairman. According to the Washington Times, the ranking minority member, Sen. Clair McCaskill (D-Mo.) reacted this way:

Sen. Claire McCaskill, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said she wants to get rid of gangs, but criticized the release of the whistleblower documents, saying it may have hurt active investigations or otherwise dented efforts to get the gang members out of the country.

"I have concerns that these documents were released so quickly," she said.


My reaction? Nonsense. Sen. McCaskill (whose score on immigration control from NumbersUSA is a dismal D-) appears to playing the usual partisan game of distraction. If you don't like, or your party is embarrassed by, a revelation, then attack the revealer for some imagined impropriety.

These gangbangers were almost certainly aware from the time of apprehension that government agents realized they had MS-13 affiliations. That would have been evident from the line of questioning, from official interest in noting and photographing any tattoos or body markings of the type so frequently worn as a source of pride by gangsters at whatever age, etc. If anything was a surprise to them, it was that they were released and permitted to go on their way toward "resettlement" — although even that may not have been a surprise if they had been told ahead of time that the government's stance was notoriously soft.

Vaughan notes in her post that we don't know the official disposition of these individuals since being inappropriately farmed out to youth facilities. The chances are strong that they fled into the wind at the first opportunity. If they didn't, it's an easy matter to now re-assume custody, detain them, and institute the removal proceedings that should have been the outcome at first contact.

On the other hand, if they did flee, then Sen. Johnson's revelation still causes no harm to law enforcement agents, contrary to Sen. McCaskill's assertions. The very first time agents make contact with someone who is a familiar of any one of these gang members in an attempt to locate them, that person is very likely to reach back to them and let them know that agents have been sniffing around to find them. Sen. Johnson's revelation neither adds nor detracts from that investigative reality.

What we must hope, though, is that the federal government, stung by the revelation, is now doing what it ought to have done in the first place: Locate and take custody of them as soon as possible (hopefully before they do something violent or heinous) and then keep them in lockdown until they are ejected from the United States.

We must also hope that they haven't migrated to a so-called "sanctuary" jurisdiction, because if they have, then it will be all that much harder for immigration agents to finally do the right thing.