2008 January 27 Sunday
Illegal Aliens Play Big Role In Virginia Gangs

A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies looks at illegal alien gangs active in Virginia.

WASHINGTON (January 2008) — Immigration law enforcement has been a key ingredient in the success of criminal gang suppression efforts in Virginia, says a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies.  As state lawmakers consider steps to address the illegal immigration problem this session, they should give high priority to institutionalizing partnerships between state and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and federal immigration authorities (ICE), as well as to immigration’s fiscal costs.  A large share of those involved with the immigrant gangs active in Virginia, such as MS-13, Surenos, and 18th Street, are illegal aliens.  Their illegal status means they are especially vulnerable to law enforcement, and local authorities should take advantage of the immigration tools available in order to disrupt criminal gang activity, remove gang members from the streets, and better protect the public.  Once explained, these measures are generally supported in communities around the state, including immigrant communities where much of the immigrant gang violence and crime occurs  Among the findings:

  • 25-50% of all gangsters arrested in northern and western Virginia are estimated to be deportable aliens.  Gang investigators estimate that 90% of the members of MS-13, the most notorious immigrant gang, are illegal aliens.
  • More MS-13 members have been nabbed in Virginia than any other ICE jurisdiction in the country (261 arrests out of an estimated population of 2,000 in the state).  Nearly 80% of the 341 ICE gang arrests in Virginia were members of MS-13.  The remainder belonged to 28 other gangs.
  • Immigrant gangsters are responsible for serious and often violent crimes in Virginia.  Nine of those arrested by ICE in the last three years were murderers, and six were sex offenders.  Their most common crimes were assault and robbery/larceny.
  • Gangsters tend to work by day in construction, landscaping, farming, and day labor, and at night are involved in organized crime including drug dealing, prostitution rings, theft, and extortion.

They also work in day jobs. Yes, legal work doesn't prevent them from getting into a life in crime. The authors of the report point out that increasing enforcement of laws against illegal employment will reduce the ability of criminal gangs to become established in an area.

Mild proposal: round up all the illegal El Salvadorians. Also, stop immigration from El Salvador.

  • 62% of alien gangsters arrested in Virginia by ICE were from El Salvador, 12 % were from Mexico, and 10% from Honduras.
  • Immigration law provides powerful investigative authorities not available to local or even other federal LEAs.  In addition, federal immigration law provides special measures to encourage cooperation of witnesses and informants, and to protect victims of crime. 
  • Researchers found no “chilling effect” on the reporting of crime as a result of partnerships with ICE.  Immigrant community leaders do have an important role to play in reinforcing the message that crime victims and witnesses are not targets of immigration law enforcement. 
  • Immigrant gangs are multiplying and spreading out across the state, and both ICE and state and local LEAs believe they would benefit greatly from receiving more formal training in immigration law, documentation and related issues that apply to criminal aliens.

Every state and local law enforcement officer interviewed welcomed a partnership with ICE and most praised local ICE agents for responsiveness and assistance.  However, some jurisdictions have restricted police ability to make inquiries about immigration status or verify identity of minor lawbreakers, and in some cases refuse to support federal immigration law enforcement.  A number of more rural or distant jurisdictions have seen increasing illegal settlement and immigrant gang activity, but have little exposure to immigration issues and little contact with ICE.  In addition, ICE’s limited resources, its primary focus on terrorism, and the resulting neglect of routine immigration law enforcement causes frustration in communities facing significant fiscal and economic costs from illegal immigration.  ICE’s inability to respond on a consistent basis has fostered complacency and cynicism about immigration law enforcement among some local LEAs.  

The report includes a number of recommendations including checking immigration status of all people taken into law enforcement custody.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 January 27 08:57 PM  Immigration Crime


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