New York Immigration Coalition Condemns the Dehumanization of Immigrants, Reported by The Nation

Posted on May 24, 2018

Gang Members Are Not ‘Animals’

Originally Posted in The Nation on May 23, 2018
Written by Julianne Hing

After his most recent garbled attack on MS-13, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s press secretary, defended his comments and said that they, in fact, did not go far enough: “Frankly, I don’t think the term that the president used was strong enough. This is one of the most vicious and deadly gangs that operate by the motto of rape, control, and kill. If the media and liberals want to defend MS-13, they’re more than welcome to.”

The first point is the most basic: Members of MS-13 are people. Even those affiliated with a transnational gang guilty of gruesome violence. Even those who were born in Central America. Even those who don’t speak English. To forget that is to take a step toward dehumanization and the easy rationalization of so much worse.

Its [MS-13’s] violence is largely geared toward members of their own community, mostly of other young people and those suspected of disrespecting the gang. But the Trump administration has made very little distinction between MS-13 members and victims. Often the young people who are targeted for retribution or recruitment are the same young people targeted by law enforcement for their suspected affiliation with the group.

The New York Immigration Coalition, which surveyed 43 attorneys, advocates, and community leaders in the New York area, found that more than three-quarters of respondents worked with clients who had been accused of being gang members.

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