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Rep. Carl: Border crisis hits Alabama

Since before I took office, I have been warning people about the dangers that come with millions of illegal immigrants pouring across the border. It’s not just the number of people that are coming across and being lost in the system that concerns me as much as the crime and the drugs some illegal immigrants are bringing with them.

When I first started talking about this issue, I frequently got asked why I cared so much since Alabama is not technically a border state. Well, unfortunately, we have become a border state. Just a few days ago, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested an MS-13 member on El Salvador’s Top 100 Most Wanted list in Chelsea, Ala.

Yes, you read that right. One of the worst and most violent gang members in El Salvador was arrested in Chelsea, Ala., which is a quiet community of barely 15,000 people in central Alabama.

Juan Carlos Portillo, the MS-13 member who was arrested, is wanted in El Salvador for aggravated kidnapping, attempted aggravated homicide, aggravated extortion, terrorist organization, deprivation of liberty, and aggravated homicide. He had already been deported in December 2022 but illegally crossed the border a second time and has been living in small town Alabama – not a border town or a big city – until ICE finally captured him.

Portillo is not an exception, and he’s definitely not the only Central American gang member living amongst us. State Rep. Shane Stringer (R-Citronelle) has previously talked about numerous encounters he had with MS-13 during his tenure as police chief of Citronelle. MS-13 is very active in our rural communities, and they play a huge role in the drug trafficking issue affecting so many of our family and friends.

Folks, this is an extremely serious issue, and it should scare us all to death what is going on around us.

These violent criminals aren’t just hanging out at the border and living in big cities. They are living all over this country, including in small towns and cities in Alabama.

The worst of the worst are coming out of countries like El Salvador, and the Biden administration is throwing the doors open to these violent criminals, drug traffickers, and international terrorists.

Until we get our southern border under control, get tough on crime, and deport violent criminals, none of our communities will be safe. I can promise you I will continue doing every single thing I can do to get the wall built, fully fund our law enforcement, and work to put an end to this crisis.

Enough is enough.

Jerry Carl represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He lives in Mobile with his wife Tina.

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