Paul Cook

09/14/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/14/2017 10:26

Rep. Paul Cook Votes for Bill to Combat MS-13 Gang

WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted today for H.R. 3697, the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act. The bill passed the House by a margin of 233-175.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has found that membership of violent transnational gangs is comprised largely of foreign-born nationals. According to the Department of Justice, MS-13, a transnational gang that is notoriously violent and comprised of members mostly from Central America, has 10,000 members inside the United States and 40,000 members worldwide. MS-13 engages in gang activities in at least 40 states. Their members are known to be extremely violent, often killing their victims with machetes.

Currently, it is not possible to deport gang members until they are convicted of an independent crime. This bill ensures that criminal alien gang members are not eligible for immigration benefits such as asylum, special immigrant juvenile status, and temporary protected status, and includes provisions to detain and remove criminal gang members or those who participate in gang activity.

Specifically, this legislation defines a criminal gang as a group of five or more individuals whose primary purpose is to commit one or more of the following offenses: a felony drug offense, importing or harboring aliens, a crime of violence, obstruction of justice, fraud, or conspiracy to commit an offense. The bill prohibits aliens who have been associated with a criminal gang from entering the country and establishes that an alien in the United States who is associated with a criminal gang is deportable.

Rep. Cook said, 'The most important job of the federal government is to keep Americans safe. We are a nation of immigrants, but we must not reward violent gang members such as those in MS-13 who break our laws and threaten the safety of our communities. This is common-sense legislation that fixes a dangerous loophole in our immigration laws. I look forward to it becoming law.'

A member of the House Armed Services, Natural Resources, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.