- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Republican lawmaker wants to strip U.S. citizenship from foreign-born gang members, in response to escalating violence from MS-13 and other immigrant-based gangs.

The bill by Rep. Lee Zeldin, New York Republican, is titled “Protecting our Communities from Gang Violence Act” and would revoke the naturalization of anyone who becomes involved in gang activity either 10 years before or 10 years after taking the U.S. citizenship oath.

“United States naturalization is a privilege not a right, and those who have had this privilege bestowed upon them must respect and uphold the laws of our land,” Mr. Zeldin said, according to a report in the Washington Examiner.

Mr. Zeldin’s statement touting his bill said it was prompted by a spate of MS-13 violence on Long Island, part of which he represents.

“From the vicious machete attack of four young men in Central Islip, to the childhood best friends brutally murdered by MS-13 in Brentwood, our community has witnessed the indiscriminate brutality of gang violence firsthand,” he said.

MS-13 is an El Salvador gang that has been imported into the U.S. as Salvadoran and other Central American immigration has surged in recent decades.

Immigrant-rights groups blasted Mr. Zeldin for the proposal Tuesday.

“This bill is shameless political posturing,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “It will actually cripple public safety, while demonizing Long Island’s thousands of hard-working immigrants.”

He said Homeland Security uses “arbitrary criteria” to calculate gang affiliation, opening the door to deportations without firm public safety reasons.

Immigrant-rights groups are fighting a case in Washington state where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested and tried to deport a young man here under the Obama-era DACA deportation amnesty. ICE said the man had a gang tattoo and gave indications of past gang activity.

The man says the tattoo has no gang significance and he did not affiliate with the gang authorities charged.

Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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