This weekend, President Donald trump spoke in Long Island, giving a graphic speech detailing the gory actions of the Salvadorian gang ms-13 and his plans to combat them, while simultaneously expounding on his immigration agenda.

A violent group

Trump used alarmist language to describe the actions of MS-13 while in New York. He stated (of MS-13) that "They kidnap. They extort. They rape and they rob. They stomp on their victims. They beat them with clubs, they slash them with machetes, and they stab them with knives. They have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful quiet neighborhoods into blood-stained killing fields. They're animals." In the past year, individuals associated with MS-13 have been accused of multiple counts of murder in the Long Island area.

SImilar activity has taken place in Virginia and Maryland.

However, the true extent of the threat is difficult to quantify, simply because most data about violent crime is kept on a jurisdictional basis.

The roots of MS-13

MS-13, which stands for Mara Salvatrucha began as a result of a civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s which caused many refugees to flee to the United States for safety. The gang originated in Los Angeles. However, since its nascency, it has grown to include 10,000members in the U.S. and 24,000in El Salvador. Their rise in El Salvador can mostly be attributed to deported MS-13 members popularizing participation in the gang in major cities, like the capital San Salvador.

Trump on immigration

Trump’s speech can be easily linked to his immigration agenda, which centers on deporting immigrants without proper documentation and/or a criminal background.

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The members of MS-13 are perfect examples.

However, while Trump was giving his speech on Friday, his attorney general, Jeff Sessions was actually in El Salvador. He congratulated the government of El Salvador for the arrest of 113 gang-members, signaling the Trump administration's support for combating gang-related violence.

Yet, at the same time, the Trump administration has also proposed to scale back funds to aid Central America by 39 percent. These funds have been previously allocated to help law enforcement agencies catch gang members. This is counterproductive as a lack of funds makes it impossible for the government in Central America to develop other institutions necessary to significantly decrease the prevalence of MS-13 and other organizations like it.

Additionally, the proposed deportation of migrants back to their home countries would also make it more difficult for the governments to harness their crime fighting institutions. Trump's policies, therefore, are exacerbating the chances that Ms-13 and groups like it will metastasize.

The Atlantic spoke to Sarah Kinosian, a program officer for citizen security at the Washington Office on Latin America, and she lamented, “I mean, I guess like with anything in this administration we have to see how it plays out in practice.”