The congressional contest between two-term Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (VA-10) and State Senator Jennifer Wexton (D-Fairfax) is heating up as the issues of MS-13 and transnational gangs in the Northern Virginia district arise. The gang is responsible for numerous high-profile and violent killings in the tri-state area, but it seems that one candidate is not taking it seriously.

Last week, Wexton accosted Comstock for engaging in “fearmongering and race-baiting” after she has pushed for legislation that would support the swift deportation of undocumented immigrants suspected of gang activity and increase funding for task forces dedicated to ridding the area of gangs, according to The Washington Post.

Sponsored by Comstock, the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act will establish a federal grant program to fund and provide resources to state and local agencies working to ward off gang violence, not only in Northern Virginia, but around the country. In a press release from the representative, the bill earned the support of the, “Fraternal Order of Police, the Major County Sheriffs of America, National District Attorneys Association, National Criminal Justice Association, National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, Sergeants Benevolent Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and the National Association of Police Organizations.”

Furthermore, it was heavily praised by Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force Jay Lanham who said the legislation, “will provide the task force the opportunity to obtain badly needed funding for Intervention, Prevention, Education, and Suppression efforts.” Funding to the tune of $50 million per year would be allocated to efforts to curb gang activity. The bill also expands the authority of the federal government to detain or deport undocumented immigrants who are gang members or suspected of gang activity.

“That’s the legislation she’s patroned,” Wexton continued with her attacks. “That’s the Republican playbook. That’s what we saw in 2017 races. That’s what we’ve seen with their pandering and fearmongering and race-baiting.”

In response to Wexton’s offensive, Comstock released a lengthy statement that lists the names of MS-13 victims who have been, “beaten, stabbed and shot to death.” Also listed is 24 separate news article detailing the brutal attacks and killings from the gang in recent months.

As well, the incumbent Republican reiterated that her opponent was “out of touch” with the gang problem and its victims.

Comstock is right, though. Even Democratic Congressmen Gerry Connolly (VA-11) and Don Beyer (VA-8), both of whom have endorsed Wexton, and every other Democratic representative in Virginia voted in favor of the Republican-led bill. Regardless of political party affiliation, everyone in Virginia knows there is a problem with violence stemming from MS-13 and other transnational gangs.

This is not about race; this is not about instilling fear – MS-13, whose motto is “rape, kill, control,” has already done that. Even undocumented immigrants living in the Northern Virginia area, many of whom have escaped their countries of origin because of similar violence, have called for more policing of gang-ridden areas to keep communities safe.

Susan Falconer, Comstock’s campaign manager, sums it up pretty well in the press release: “I suppose Jennifer Wexton thinks that one of her fake cops dressed up in a Party City costume can stop the violence that MS-13 gang members visit upon their own communities,” alluding to an embarrassing gaffe by the Wexton campaign last month that drew widespread criticism.