Immigrants and Gang-Related Crimes in America
According to statista.com there are 5 homicides for every 100,000 people in the United states. In 2008 there were over 900,000 cases of grand theft auto. And last year Americans spent over 100 million dollars on illegal drugs.
What is the cause of all this crime?
Some believe that illegal immigrants are to blame for all the crime that goes on in America. It is true that most immigrants come to America in search for a better life, but it is also true that they are more susceptible to gangs and other illegal activities.
One example that makes immigrants more susceptible to crime is that many of the immigrants coming here (America) are coming from violent and hostile areas of the world. The University of Pennsylvania Press talks about the El Salvadorian Civil War, they say “After the conflicts stopped, crime rates shot up.” (Oberfield) This war ended in 1992 and according to cis.org from 1992 to 1994 over 25 million immigrants came from south America to the United States. Some of the immigrants have lived with this violence and hatred all their lives. Aggression is simply all they know.
Another reason is poverty. Immigrants usually arrive in the country with little money and limited opportunities. They will face challenges such as learning a new language or having to work poor condition jobs that pay little money. Immigrants will often commit crimes out of necessity to obtain food, clothing, and shelter. Majority of the times when immigrants arrive, they have no money, no job, this is the only way they can survive.
Lastly, many immigrants join gangs for a sense of belonging. Immigrant families are often separated and seeking others for companionship. Gangs offer a temporary family environment for these people in this entirely new country. Snopes.com mentions that “2,342 children were separated from 2,206 parents at the US-Mexico border, in 2018 alone.“ Children, crossing the border are often targeted by gangs because they are vulnerable and young. Later in these kids’ life they will feel a sense of debt toward the gang because of the help that they have been given.
In the 1990’s El Salvadorian immigrants sought refuge in southern California. They quickly formed a gang known as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). The name alone imbues violence, mara meaning gang, and salvatrucha coming from a word for El Salvadorian guerilla fighters. This gang has been a major threat on the west coast for more than 30 years. Not only are they extremely violent, they are also a large part of drug and sex trafficking in America. This gang consists of almost 100% south American heritage. Perhaps this group formed out of necessity for survival, or maybe because they were seeking a family, or maybe just because this lifestyle of crime and violence is normal to them.
Regardless, the U.S. must address the immigration issue to reduce gang violence. So, what do we do?
One possible solution is to provide better resources for incoming immigrants. If they are going to come to America no matter what, we might as well show them a little support. If immigrants had adequate resources, such as food, jobs, shelter, they would not have to live their criminalistic reality. Another solution could be shelters. Shelters would provide basic needs and a sense of family for them. Counseling could also help immigrants acclimate to U.S. culture as opposed to the systemic violence they are forced to live with in their home countries.
In the end immigrants are not fully to blame for America’s violence and crime rates; however, we cannot ignore their influence. Immigrants are more susceptible to gangs and criminality, due to their lack of resources and the uncertainty of coming to a new country. With the proper help we can stop immigrants from crime, we can create a support system for them and let them know they are more than welcome in our country.
Jessica M. Vaughan. “MS-13 Resurgence: Immigration Enforcement Needed to Take Back Our Streets.” CIS.org, cis.org/Report/MS13-Resurgence-Immigration-Enforcement-Needed-Take-Back-Our-Streets.
Shaulova, Esther, and Lodovica Biagi. “Violent Crime in the United States.” Statista, www.statista.com/study/13105/violent-crime-in-the-united-states-statista-dossier/
Scott, Katherine L. “Statement of Ed Gillespie on Recent MS-13 Violence in the Commonwealth – Ed Gillespie.” Ed Gillespie, 18 Oct. 2017, edforvirginia.com/2017/10/18/ms-13statement/
Dreier, Hannah. “I’ve Been Reporting on MS-13 for a Year. Here Are the 5 Things Trump Gets Most Wrong.” ProPublica, 5 June 2018, 5 am, www.propublica.org/article/ms-13-immigration-facts-what-trump-administration-gets-wrong
Becoming Bureaucrats | Zachary W. Oberfield, www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/14739.html.
Associated Press. “Parents Face Tougher Rules to Get Immigrant Children Back.” Snopes.com, www.snopes.com/ap/2018/09/24/parents-face-tougher-rules-get-immigrant-children-back/.