The former head of the Drug Enforcement Agency slammed Trump's extreme rhetoric as hurtful to law enforcement.
Trump's rhetoric around MS-13 and immigration is not only racist, it makes the jobs of real law enforcement officials more difficult, according to Chuck Rosenberg, a former FBI agent and former head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Trump's whole approach to MS-13, a gang with origins in southern California that has since spread to El Salvador and Honduras, is "inflexible and clumsy, based on stereotypes rather than facts," says Rosenberg.
Trump's ill-informed bluster, contrary to his stated goals, is really just strengthening gangs like MS-13. Rosenberg laid out his case in USA TODAY.
The president’s focus on MS-13 is political and undermines efforts to counter it. Former MS-13 members have warned that his constant references to the gang have given it visibility and free advertising, enabling it to recruit and metastasize.
Trump's racism is not just bigoted; it's a recruitment tool for a violent gang.
In the past, Trump has called immigrants "animals," and referred to Haiti and nations in Africa as "shithole countries." His racism was evident from the moment he announced his White House bid, when he referred to Mexicans as criminals and rapists. Trump diligently links immigrants to MS-13, eliciting a mix of fear and xenophobia.
Rosenberg goes on to mention the fact that crime rates among immigrants is lower than people born in the U.S. Yet rhetoric from Trump and allies in Congress rely on misinformation meant to stir up fear and resentment.
"Our immigration debate must be decoupled from MS-13 fear-mongering," Rosenberg says.
Trump is not alone in his strident anti-immigrant stance. Many Freedom Caucus Republicans, such as Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), do their best to stroke fear when talking about immigration.
After the horrific deadly shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, last year, Perry went on national television to blame terrorists who crossed the southern border.
Rosenberg calls for a smarter way to combat the real problem of gang violence in America, not the political bombast spewed by Trump, Perry and many other Republicans.
"Let's discount unenlightened political voices," Rosenberg said, in an obvious dig at Trump, "and heed the more knowledgeable law enforcement voices close to home."