Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) suggested that MS-13 gang members are supporters of Nancy Pelosi, two days after Pelosi condemned the policy of separating children from parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee for the take back of the House,” Huckabee tweeted, along with a photo of men making signs associated with MS-13, a violent gang that began in Los Angeles in the 1980s. It now operates primarily in Central America and has members in the United States.
On Thursday, House Minority Leader Pelosi had sharply criticized the Trump administration’s zero tolerance border policy in a speech Thursday given to Democratic lawmakers gathered to discuss the policy. She specifically called out the cruelty of forcibly separating kids from parents.
“You come near our cubs, you got a problem. And we consider these [immigrant] children our children,” Pelosi said during a “shadow” hearing outside the formal committee proceedings. She went on to mention the psychological and emotional trauma young children experience when torn from their caregivers.
Given this context, Huckabee’s tweet could be read to suggest that Pelosi’s call to protect migrant children is somehow analogous to helping MS-13. President Donald Trump has previously mischaracterized Pelosi as being “in favor” of the gang after she rebuked Trump for referring to undocumented immigrants as “animals.”
Additionally, the actual Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a Hispanic chairman, Ben Ray Luján, and numerous Hispanic members. Luján responded to Huckabee with his own tweet on Saturday afternoon.
On Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order that he said would end the policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border. However, the same order also aims to increase the administration’s ability to detain children along with their parents indefinitely.
So far, the government has no clear plans to reunite the more 2,300 children ― including babies and toddlers ― who have been separated from their families.
While MS-13 is known to target unaccompanied immigrant minors ― many of whom were coming to the U.S. in the first place to escape gang violence in their home countries ― for recruitment, those who join MS-13 in the U.S. are a small percentage of immigrants overall.
This story has been updated with additional context and a tweet from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s chairman.