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Judicial Watch • U.S. Sanctuaries Protect Violent Gangs

U.S. Sanctuaries Protect Violent Gangs

U.S. Sanctuaries Protect Violent Gangs

OCTOBER 02, 2008

While federal immigration enforcement has helped cities across the U.S. combat an epidemic of gang violence, those with the most severe cases continue to be seriously infested thanks to sanctuary policies that protect illegal immigrants.

A new Department of Justice-funded study reveals that immigration enforcement has drastically reduced gang violence because most of the nation’s gang bangers are illegal immigrants who represent a significant threat to the American public. About 80% of the street gangsters arrested by federal agents had committed serious crimes in addition to their immigration violations.

In fact, most members of the notoriously violent street gang known as MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha are illegal immigrants with active criminal records. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials say that the majority of illegal alien gangsters arrested are Mexican nationals, followed by Salvadorans and Hondurans.

The agency’s biggest obstacle in combating gang violence is presented by local police departments that refuse to enforce immigration laws. Their don’t-ask-don’t-tell immigration policies essentially shield deportable violent criminals from federal authorities. These local law enforcement agencies that shun involvement with immigration law enforcement are missing an opportunity to protect their communities, according to the report.

The publication specifically lists notorious sanctuary cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix and Houston as having well-documented gang problems yet low arrest rates. The Los Angeles case of a previously convicted illegal immigrant gang banger who murdered a teenaged high school football star is a recent example of a sanctuary city’s tragic consequence.

Police departments that forbid officers from inquiring about a suspect’s legal status claim immigrants would otherwise refuse to report crimes out of fear of being deported. However, researchers found that to be false among the dozens of municipalities investigated.

Nearly 100 U.S. cities were thoroughly researched for the publication, which points out that transnational immigrant gangs are spreading rapidly in suburban and rural areas that in many cases are not equipped to deal with them. That is precisely why local and federal authorities must team up to effectively battle th


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