Legislation to combat transnational gangs supported by Rep. Paul Cook
New legislation — H.R. 3697, the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act — passed the House late last week by a margin of 233-175. Rep. Paul Cook (R-8th District-Apple Valley) voted in favor of the bill which 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.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has found that membership in violent transnational gangs is comprised largely of foreign-born nationals. 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 according to the Department of Justice. The MS-13 gangs engage in extremely violent activities in at least 40 states, often killing their victims with machetes.
H.R. 3697 specifically 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 can be deported.
“The most important job of the federal government is to keep Americans safe,” said Rep. Cook. “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.”
Rep. Cook’s 8th District includes Yucaipa. He is member of the House Armed Services, Natural Resources, and Foreign Affairs Committees. Rep. Cook served as an infantry officer and retired as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps after 26 years. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.