U.S. President Donald Trump hit out at Mexico on Friday, accusing the country of not doing enough to stop MS-13 gang members from crossing the border.
The president said that while MS-13 gang members are being removed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol agents "by the thousands," the "killers" are re-entering the U.S. from Mexico and El Salvador "like water."
"Mexico must help more with this problem," Trump said in a tweet. "We need The Wall," he added, once again pushing for his long-proposed border wall, which he has repeatedly claimed he will force Mexico to fund.
While the U.S. leader called on Mexico to do more to help with border control, he said El Salvador "just takes our money."
Trump's comments come just a day after he said he was considering pulling ICE agents out of California, claiming the state has provided "no help" in removing MS-13 gang members.
The gang, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, started in Los Angeles, California, in the 1980s among predominantly Salvadoran immigrants. Its members have been behind dozens of brutal killings throughout the U.S.
The Trump administration has made it a priority to crack down on the gang's members in the U.S., vowing last year to "eradicate" MS-13.
While Trump claimed in his tweet that ICE has removed MS-13 members "by the thousands," ICE said it arrested only 796 people belonging to the gang in the 2017 fiscal year. However, critics have suggested that number may be much lower, accusing agents of inflating that number by wrongfully arresting people who have no gang affiliation.
MS-13 gang members are being removed by our Great ICE and Border Patrol Agents by the thousands, but these killers come back in from El Salvador, and through Mexico, like water. El Salvador just takes our money, and Mexico must help MORE with this problem. We need The Wall!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 23, 2018
The president's comments about El Salvador come as hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the country face deportation.
The Department of Homeland Security recently announced the termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for as many as 200,000 El Salvadorans with deep ties to the U.S., despite warnings from the country that the return of hundreds of thousands of nationals would be destabilizing.
According to research from the Centre of Migration Studies in New York, 88 percent of Salvadoran TPS beneficiaries work in the U.S., with large numbers owning homes in the country.
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