Reuters reported Friday afternoon that United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers will conduct nationwide raids next week, all of which will target teenagers who have traveled to the U.S. without guardians and who are suspected gang members.
The tip, which the wire service received from an unnamed Department of Homeland Security official and confirmed via an internal DHS memo, noted that the raids would begin Sunday, July 23rd, and extend through Wednesday, the 26th. Reuters also reports that they will target teens ages 16 and 17.
In a statement also sent to Reuters, an ICE spokesperson said the department will judge suspected gang members based on criteria that includes "having gang tattoos, frequenting an area notorious for gangs and wearing gang apparel."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has frequently cited gang violence when discussing what he describes as a negative impact immigrants have on the U.S.; in particular, Sessions has zeroed in on Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), a gang comprised mostly of Salvadorans.
Speaking from the U.S.-Mexico border in April, Sessions referred to gangs and drug cartels as "criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into war zones, that rape and kill innocent citizens, and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders. Depravity and violence are their calling cards ... it is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth."
Salvadorans founded MS-13 in the 1980s in Los Angeles after fleeing from a horrific, bloody civil war in El Salvador that claimed nearly 75,000 civilian lives, a war the U.S. helped fund and perpetuate.