Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) appeared to equate migrant children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border with MS-13 gang members in a racist tweet Saturday morning.
"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.
The tweet came two days after House Minority Leader Pelosi 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.
On Wednesday, President Donald 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.
Even so, Trump has repeatedly used MS-13 as an excuse for crackdowns on undocumented immigrants and used gang violence as a justification for dehumanizing immigrants.