In reality, MS-13 members make up a fraction of Border Patrol arrests and a small part of gang activity in the United States. While the group has committed brutal murders on Long Island, there is no evidence that the gang is increasingly sending members into the country.
.. Rather than a nationwide threat, the group is being used as a political tool used to “turbocharge the xenophobia that underlies the debate around immigration
.. MS-13 members, some 10,000 in number, make up less than 1 percent of the approximately 1.4 million gang members in the United States, according to F.B.I. estimates. Other gangs are several times larger... MS-13’s numbers are stagnant, too. While precise size estimates are hard to come by, authorities have used the same figure of about 10,000 members for over a decade. (The F.B.I. estimates the gang has between 30,000 and 50,000 members around the world.).. Far from menacing cities across the country, as Mr. Trump has suggested, the gang’s presence is concentrated in Long Island, Los Angeles and the region outside Washington... In addition, most MS-13 recruits are not migrants but teenagers who live in the United States and are alienated from their communities.. In those areas, the gang may be the only group that provides a sense of identity.. Policymakers in Central America have argued deporting criminals from the United States has exacerbated gang problems abroad, ultimately worsening crime in the United States... While MS-13 began in the 1980s as a small and unorganized street gang in Los Angeles, some evidence suggests the group expanded in Central America after the United States began deporting illegal immigrants — many with criminal backgrounds — with greater intensity in 1996. Experts have described this process as “exporting” American-style gang culture to Central America... Poor prison conditions in those countries may have also helped MS-13 become larger and better organized.. By 2008, law enforcement found evidence that MS-13 leaders in El Salvadoran prisons were ordering assassinations in Washington while making plans to unify gang groups in the United States.
“MS-13 was a gang fueled by deportation, not immigration,” Dr. Leap said.
.. Trump uses MS-13 as a political tool
At a rally last month in Nashville, Mr. Trump once again linked MS-13 to his political opponents. He has said on Twitter that Democrats are “weak on crime” along the border and are “protecting MS-13 thugs.”.. Mike Huckabee, tweeted an incendiary picture of MS-13 members, likening them to the campaign staff for Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader... MS-13 has entered the national conversation because of Mr. Trump’s anti-immigration agenda, not because it has become more threatening, Dr. Cruz said. Because of the gang’s association with Central American countries that Mr. Trump dislikes, “it’s the perfect group for him to blame,” he added.
The American Public Health Association wrote that the trauma from such separation could lead to alcoholism, substance abuse, depression, obesity and suicide. (While the White House says the policy will end for future migrants, it will still affect the thousands of children currently in custody.)
.. But even for those who believe immigration lawbreakers deserve punishment, there’s another argument against separating children from their families: national security. The government’s policy puts the United States at risk, in both the short and long term, by breeding a generation of children with psychological problems and a population elsewhere that reviles us. Traumatized children are prime recruits for extremist groups.
Their children and children’s children grow up in the shadow of, to use the language of 9,300 mental health experts, “shrapnel of this traumatic experience embedded in their minds.” As adults, these traumatized children are significantly more likely to have encounters with law enforcement.
.. An extensive body of literature documents how early childhood trauma creates cycles of violence that can destabilize whole nations.
.. most “deterrence” interventions, including jailing and family separation, actually triggered increased terrorist attacks.
.. In North America, the survivors of forced attendance in American Indian boarding schools have seen the effects reverberate for years. Scholars in Canada have drawn causal links between boarding school attendance (sometimes for children as young as 3) in the 1900s and elevated levels of depression, drug use and criminal behavior two generations later.
.. Native American women sent to boarding schools as girls were six times more likely to be incarcerated than their white counterparts and had a 57 percent higher rate of alcoholism as adults.
.. A 2016 study of 15,587 adult children of incarcerated parents found that separating children from parents directly increased interactions with the criminal justice system, including drug abuse and gang affiliation.
.. Syrian children separated from their support systems are “more likely to become
- the youngest laborers in the factory,
- the youngest brides at the altar, and
- the youngest soldiers in the trench.”
.. The individual suffering of older children is immediately consequential to our security because incarceration centers have become recruiting grounds for armed groups. Trump’s favorite boogeyman, the MS-13 gang from which so many Salvadorans flee, was founded in Los Angeles prisons. The United States is keenly aware that young people can be easily radicalized while imprisoned
.. We have seen the radicalization of incarcerated youths firsthand. One of us, Steven Leach, spent years working with South African juveniles awaiting trial. These youths did not all enter detention as organized criminals, but without exception, among those who worked with Leach, each left prison a member of the gang.
.. A similar problem emerged in the internment camps of the Anglo-Boer war, in which British soldiers detained civilians to deter guerrilla campaigns by Boer insurgents. Approximately 115,000 people were held in the camps between 1901 and 1902; 22,000 Afrikaner children died. More than a century later, that horror remains at the forefront of the Afrikaner imagination
.. He leverages lies to stoke fear here: “We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!”
..Naturally, this feeds radical anti-American sentiment and promotes nationalism abroad when the U.S. is most in need of alliances to solve global problems.
.. There is now strong evidence that punitive deterrence strategies don’t work, no matter how burdensome they are.
.. punishments between 2000 and 2015 effectively reduced economic migration from Mexico but had negligible impact on the population the administration is targeting with its current policy: asylum seekers fleeing violence.
The report points out that there is no consequence worse than death and violence at home for these migrants.
.. If these are people we want as enemies, we had better be prepared for a multigenerational war.
People in prison commonly live with a sense of personal failure. Most prisons and jails foster, even amplify, this sense of failure by dehumanizing practices like constant herding and extreme over-crowding. Prisoners’ efforts to cope with these humiliations result in behaviors similar to those identified with veterans as PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder).
The violence in a war zone, like the threat of violence in a maximum-security prison, creates a chronic debilitating state of fight or flight for the individual. To simply cope, the prisoner develops the ability to avoid and numb feelings and represses intrusive memories. This leaves many of them with enormous anxiety and a deep sense of personal shame.
When their basic sense of personal worth is stifled in this way, the sufferers are driven to further extremes of self-loathing. As penal institutions perpetuate a culture of dehumanization, the symptoms of PTSD proliferate. Though they can be visible (angry outbursts, aggressive behavior), they also fester in secret (night terrors), buried in the deep crevices of the psyche.
As one prisoner describes it, “The external reality and climate of violence that dominates one’s existence and sense of self in these high-security prison environments cuts a prisoner off from any sense of personal interiority.” 
Experts tell us that the deepest wound of PTSD is a “moral injury,” that is a wound to the soul, caused by participation in events that violate one’s most deeply held sense of right and wrong. The perpetrator or victim realizes how wrong it was. The irony, of course, is that this “disorder” is actually an appropriately normal response to an overwhelmingly abnormal situation
.. Centering Prayer bypasses the mind with its horrific memories and trauma and invites practitioners to “detach” from their narratives and “let go” into the spaciousness of Silence. There they can encounter God or Divine Reality through the deep longings of their hearts. The silence pulsates with a compassion and warmth that other remedies cannot replicate. The deep sense of moral injury and shame no longer needs to be repressed. They can begin to forgive themselves and feel like they just might be lovable.
Miller, once a Sessions acolyte, remains in the White House, his silence loudly suggesting that he’s content to let his old boss twist in the wind.
Over the past decade, conservatives have taken a hard look at criminal justice reform and concluded that our long-standing, tough-on-crime political war led to a system that was too punitive, too reflexive and too racially separate — to the point that just about the only bipartisan thing going in Washington right now is the joint bail reform initiative of conservatarian Sen. Rand Paul and San Francisco liberal Sen. Kamala Harris. But the Sessions Justice Department, consonant with the swaggering lock-’em-up rhetoric of the Trump campaign, has ordered federal prosecutors to aim for the toughest penalties in every case.
Non-Trump conservatives find the Sessions Justice Department’s expansive statism hard to swallow; his reiterationof the tried-and-failed War on Drugs is particularly repellent to those who claim to believe in federalism. Despite decades of Republicans advocating for power to flow back to the states and away from one-size-fits-all Washington regulatory and legal control, the “beleaguered” attorney general’s almost obsessive anti-drug crusade has focused on states that have passed marijuana decriminalization and legalization. Just the kind of showy but ineffective and unconservative policy that Trump routinely favors.
Sessions reversed an Obama-era reform that had been heralded across the political spectrum when he reapplied civil asset forfeiture regulations, allowing law enforcement agencies to seize property for people suspected of crimes — a move that law professor and conservative USA Today columnist Glenn Harlan Reynolds rightly argues is a message that “the feds see the rest of us as prey, not as citizens.”