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Immigration Law

Expert: Trump Misleads on MS-13, Immigration

Louis Jacobson, Politifact, Feb. 26, 2018 - "Speaking at the conservative CPAC conference in Washington, President Donald Trump took a hard line on immigration and again used the deadly Central American gang MS-13 as an example. MS-13 members, he said, "are animals, they cut people. They cut 'em. They cut 'em up in little pieces, and they want them to suffer. And we take them into our country, because our immigration laws are so bad, that when we catch them, it's called catch and release. We have to by law catch them, and then release them. Catch and release. "And I can't get the Democrats, and nobody has been able to for years, to approve common-sense measures that when we catch these animal killers, we can lock them up and throw away the keys." It’s hard to tell exactly what Trump meant by this, and the White House answered only by providing details on one case from 2017. We’ve decided not to put this statement to the Truth-O-Meter, but we thought the issues it raises is worth a discussion. Immigration specialists said his statement is at best misleading. ... If Trump is referring to MS-13 members arrested inside the United States, he is wrong that they are simply let go. "The immigration statute 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c) requires the government to detain people who have committed certain crimes while going through deportation proceedings," said Steve Yale-Loehr, an immigration law specialist who teaches at Cornell Law School. "That is called mandatory detention." If Trump is referring instead to MS-13 members caught at the border while trying to enter the United States, this statement isn’t much more accurate, Yale-Loehr said. "Under current law, immigrants who are detained within 100 miles of the border and who have been in the country less than 14 days can be deported immediately, without being processed through the immigration courts," he said. There is another option: Individuals can seek asylum if they have suffered persecution or fear they will suffer persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. "If an individual caught along the border claims asylum, he or she will have their claim reviewed by an asylum officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services," Yale-Loehr said. "If they can show they have a credible fear, the individual goes through the immigration court process. If they don’t have a credible fear, or if an immigration judge denies their asylum claim," they will be deported."