- Accuracy in Media - https://www.aim.org -

ProPublica: Trump Way Overstates The Case Against MS-13

President Trump is wrong about MS-13, according to a recent piece on ProPublica. [1]

It has little role in the drug trade and can’t be called an international crime organization “because it has no central leader or global ambitions.”

It is not growing or preying on the country at large, and immigration enforcement won’t stop it.

ProPublica is a reporting outfit founded and largely funded [2] by far-left activist Herb Sandler and his wife, with help from other traditional liberal funders. It hires reporters cut loose by other media outlets and deploys them on investigative projects.

Hannah Dreier, who produced the piece on MS-13, is a former reporter for the AP on Venezuela [3] who is spending a year covering the gang and President Trump’s efforts to wipe it out in the United States.

ProPublica frequently has partnered with local newspapers – a recent hit job [4] on Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach was done in conjunction with the Kansas City Star.

But it also partners with the Associated Press, which for nearly 150 years had produced straight, unbiased news coverage for its more than 1,000 member papers, leaving the nation’s most vulnerable papers without a reliable source.

This story is part of its attempt to take down Trump on an area that has become a staple of his stump speeches and a plank in his platform – using immigration policy and other tools to wipe out MS-13.

The subhead on Dreier’s piece [3] lays out her aim: “To stop them, the government needs to understand them.” And she proceeds to provide some of that understanding.

Dreier admits [3] the “one thing everyone can agree with President Donald Trump on about the street gang MS-13” is that it “specializes in spectacular violence.”

She writes [3] of the Long Island boy who doesn’t go to parties anymore because he worries any invitation could be a trap; the father who shows her his son’s death certificate, which said the son’s head had been bashed in, then lowers his voice and tells her the boy’s bones had been marked by machete slashes, but he has not told the mother that.

There’s the teen who recently left the gang and told Dreier “he considers himself dead already and is just trying to make sure MS-13 doesn’t kill his family.”

Yet, the Trump administration doesn’t get it, she says. Most of the assertions she’s heard from the president this year about MS-13 “have almost no connection” to what she sees on the ground.

Dreier met with a 15-year-old who told her about how an MS-13 member accused of six murders on Long Island had kidnapped and raped her and forced her to tattoo his name onto her arm. But when the defendant appeared in court, he was not what Trump had promised – “chins jutted out, arms strong from lifting weights and gothic tattoos of the letters M and S on their faces and chests.”

Rather, he was “a baby-faced 19-year-old who blushed when girls waved to him from the gallery. The indictment against him laid out killings that were ordered in response to adolescent trash talking.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions calls MS-13 “one of the most brutal gangs driving the drug trade,” but experts have found the gang has barely any role in the international drug trade,” she wrote. In fact, the Congressional Research Service, according to Dreier, said it “could be misleading to call MS-13 a transnational criminal organization at all.”

In fact, Dreier says Long Island detectives call MS-13 members “’mighty munchkins’ because they have not yet hit their growth spurts and tend to commit their crimes in large groups.” And since some are recruited after entering the U.S. and the gang actually formed in Los Angeles and California prisons during the 1980s, Dreier declares “this is not a border issue. It’s a recruitment issue.”

And “lost in the controversy over whether it was OK to call gang members animals was the fact that of the six identified victims, five were immigrants and other was a child of immigrants.”