Immigration

Amnesty for Honest Gang Bangers

Too many tv comedians joke about the “Crips” and the “Bloods,” rival gangs in Southern California. But for thousands of Americans, street gangs are a threatening reality. As Central Americans migrate to the United States in great numbers, they bring with them some of the world’s most brutal gangs — including the notorious and rapidly growing MS-13’s (Mara Salvatrucha), an extremely violent  group that boasts close to 10,000 members in over 33 US states.

One of  the worst consequences of illegal immigration is the  crime some immigrants perpetrate.  Illegal alien gang members commit  violence across the country – even in places like Boise and Omaha. They seep into the country, creating cross-state connections rooted in nearly unbreakable, blood-bathed bonds. The statistics show that it’s a huge problem in California and several southwestern states.  Now, Congress and President Bush are preparing to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants without providing adequate safeguards against that amnesty being granted to gang-bangers such as MS-13 members.

The Senate Immigration Bill essentially encourages an increase of gang activity in America. In Section 601 (g) (2), it states that gang members would be eligible to receive amnesty if they sign a statement that renounces their gang membership. Hmm.  How many spies, mafiosi, or terrorists would hesitate to lie and renounce their allegiances in order to gain legal status in America?  

Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship subcommittee, attempted to bypass this particular provision, as well as other careless inclusions in the immigration bill. His amendment request was pushed back for a vote until after this week’s congressional recess. Press Secretary Brian Walsh said that decision was probably made “because that’s a pretty difficult issue to defend to your constituents.” Walsh relayed to HUMAN EVENTS that Sen. Cornyn believes “known gang members should be barred from the U.S. – period…they should not even have the opportunity to be granted a waiver or…allowed a Z visa, under any circumstances.”

Over 33,000 illegal aliens contribute to the violence and drug problems that clog our nation’s streets and now – instead of booting them out – they’re inexplicably being invited to stay. Teenagers are often told they must “earn trust” after they’ve been disobedient. In the case of delinquent illegal gang members, trust is apparently a automatically rewarded by our government. But those in charge of keeping our streets safe had little to say about this particular detail of the bill, which is conveniently buried beneath layers of other questionable stipulations.

“Members of gangs who have participated in extreme acts of violence have contributed to creating extremely dangerous situations on our borders,” said Kurt Bardella, press secretary for Rep. Brian Bilbray (R.-Calif.). “No one can make the case that we are making our borders more secure by giving amnesty to gang members.”

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an organization which seeks to improve border security and stop illegal immigration is also against the provision. Media Director Ira Mehlman said, "It boggles the mind that someone thought this was worth putting in there.. there is no rationale, logical explanation for it."

ICE conducted threat assessments in specific areas, discovering a rise in gang activity in major metropolitan areas and that “membership of these violent transnational gangs was comprised largely of foreign-born nationals,” according to a fact sheet on their web site. Most noticeably growing in America are the MS-13’s, whose founders crafted an extremely violent reputation due to guerilla warfare training. In a USA Today article last year, Bob Clifford, a Justice Department task force director, said the MS-13’s “development from a smattering of loosely organized cells across the nation to an increasingly efficient and dangerous organization…has become a significant threat to public safety.”

As illegal immigration increases, so does the illegal individual’s need for a haven of inclusion once in a foreign land. Many young people find that in gang membership, as some sort of welcoming into whichever big city or heartland suburb they arrive. But often, death is the only way out of these groups. Signing a “renunciation of gang affiliation” to a flimsy sheet of official paper hardly negates one’s commitment to this fierce cause.

The U.S. government has created many gang prevention programs – even in the past year — but this amnesty provision will undermine those efforts fatally. Two years ago, the Department of Justice formed The National Gang Intelligence Center and ICE has aggressively tackled the issue with their Community Shield Program. In February 2006, Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales introduced the Justice Department’s Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative and since 2001, they’ve spent over $1.6 billion to combat violent crime at the federal, state and local levels. In April, Gonzales expanded the Initiative’s network, saying, “Today’s announcement reinforces the Department’s commitment to keeping America’s neighborhoods safe.” But doesn’t providing known illegal immigrant gang members an easy out for amnesty destroy that claim?

“The Senate amnesty bill claims to have tough criminal penalties to crack down on gang violence.  However, the bill has the opposite effect,”  said Sen. Lamar Smith (R.-Tex.) “It imposes significant obstacles to removing dangerous alien gang members from the country and barring entry of dangerous alien gang members to the country.” 
 
Since February 2005, U.S. officials have arrested more than 1,274 members of MS-13 alone and  FBI director Robert Mueller told Newsweek in 2005 that MS-13 gangs were “the top priority of the bureau’s criminal-enterprise branch.”

Sen. Cornyn’s amendment would ensure certain people are prohibited from receiving any immigration benefits, including known gang members. In a press conference, he said he “could not agree” with the decision of lawmakers who “drafted this ‘compromise’ legislation.” Cornyn argued that his amendment included “common sense fixes.” If only more members of Congress and the President shared Cornyn’s common sense.

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