If Ed Gillespie is able to pull off the upset in Virginia’s gubernatorial election, he will have done so with a mandate to remove the MS-13 criminal threat from his state.
Though very much an establishment candidate, Gillespie’s campaign has effectively seized the border-security and safety platform and focused heavily on the gang epidemic that is plaguing much of Virginia. The GOP candidate has targeted the MS-13 criminal enterprise on the campaign trail, in advertising and through surrogates.
President Trump, similarly, has positioned the state’s election as a referendum on the issue:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2017
MS-13 is an extremely violent transnational crime syndicate with roots in El Salvador. After the decade-plus Salvadoran civil war, many refugees of the conflict flooded into the United States.
Though founded in Los Angeles in the early '90s, MS-13 has continually increased its presence in or near our nation's capital. El Salvador is the most common country of origin for foreign-born residents in the D.C.-metro area.
Gang members are known for their ruthless methods, which include vicious killings and dismemberment of bodies, and are heavily involved in the drug trade, extortion rackets, and sex trafficking.
In recent months, members of the group have committed horrific acts of violence, including several murders in Virginia. Many of its members are recruited as young teenagers, and go on to wreak havoc among Virginians, contributing to the spike in gang-related crime throughout the state.
In countering the MS-13 threat, Ed Gillespie has pledged to get tough on crime, sometimes mirroring the rhetoric and policy stances of the Trump presidential campaign. Further, Gillespie has painted his opposition as being weak on this criminal front.
The problem won’t go away on its own. Salvadorians continue to enter into the United States illegally enter into the United States in record numbers. According to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol statistics, 10 Salvadoran families are apprehended for every one Mexican family on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Gillespie’s Democratic opponent, Ralph Northam, has refused to even mention the gang epidemic in Virginia. His website makes no mention of the growing criminal gang. The politically correct Democrat often responds to attacks concerning his MS-13 weakness by declaring those who raise concerns about illegal alien gangs as the real bigots.
Ed Gillespie has frequently hurt his standing among conservative voters. But if he is somehow able to achieve victory Tuesday evening, despite recent concerns with polling, conservatives can remind him that his mandate is to protect Virginia residents from the surge of MS-13-related gang violence.
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Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.