WASHINGTON - During a rare appearance at Thursday's White House press briefing, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director Thomas Homan spoke out about the agency's mission to combat MS-13 gangs.
Along with Los Angeles, ICE considers Northern Virginia a hub for MS-13. In fact, there are between 900 and 1,100 MS-13 gang members in the D.C. area alone. That number is growing and so are efforts to get MS-13 off the streets and out of the country.
FOX 5 has exclusively obtained internal photos from ICE that prominently feature MS-13's markings and include images from closed cases that included arrests of gang members best known for drug trafficking, robbery and larceny.
Homan had a stern message for MS-13 gang members.
"Targeting, arresting and removing members of violent street gangs such as MS-13 sends a clear message to criminal enterprises around the world," said Homan. "You are not welcome in the United States and you will find no harbor here."
Homan said their battle against gangs is a priority and ICE needs more assistance from local authorities.
"We need the community's help, and most importantly, we need local law enforcement's help, especially county jails that will have an MS-13 booked in that county jail. But if that county jail is located in a sanctuary city, they get released back to the streets," said Homan. "We are asking the local jurisdictions to hang on to them until we can get there and take custody of them when they are done with you."
"Pursuant to the president's direction and executive orders, the attorney general has directed the [Department of Justice's] law enforcement agencies, ATF, DEA, FBI and the Marshals Service as well as federal prosecutors across the country to prioritize the prosecution of gang members, specifically MS-13," said Robert Hur, principal associate deputy attorney general for the Department of Justice.
We are told ICE is willing to potentially offer undocumented immigrants who are victimized by MS-13 gang members legal status to stay in the United states if they report MS-13 members to ICE and cooperate with its investigations.
The Department of Justice has also requested funding for 300 more federal prosecutors to focus specifically on violent crime and criminal immigration enforcement to directly target MS-13 members and their associates.
President Donald Trump will travel to Long Island on Friday to talk about the fight to eradicate MS-13. Long Island is also considered an MS-13 hub.