Criminal Immunity

September 8, 2010

At that increasingly common intersection of the 2nd Amendment and immigration reform we have a story about a man on Long Island arrested for shooting  alleged members of MS-13. Now, I’m not as interested in the claim that these particular individuals were members of Mara Salvatrucha-an extremely violent street gang that originated in Los Angeles, composed mostly of Salvadorean immigrants-as I am in the assertion by law enforcement officials that over 2,000 MS-13 members currently live on Long Island.

While most people think of Long Island as a suburban oasis from the gritty urban jungle of neighborhoods like Canarsie or Flatbush, the truth is that it has become a hotbed of gang-related violence, a good deal of it created by Central American-led groups like MS-13. In fact, the carnage inflicted by gangs like the Salva Maratruchas is so extensive that there have been entire books devoted to exploring the subject. The grand narrative of Nassau and Suffolk being settled by  families from New York City looking to improve their children’s prospects in life has been upended as their new neighborhoods increasingly come to resemble those that they fled. 

And the misguided immigration policy of the United States has been one of the primary contributors to the chaos we see in certain Long Island communities. Perhaps one of the very worst aspects of our immigration system is Temporary Protected Status, which is not temporary at all, unless you consider “temporary” to be a synonym for indefinite or permanent. This status is granted to entire groups of immigrants from nations that are riven by conflict and/or natural disasters. 

As you can see from this list of affected nations, El Salvador is one of the nations whose citizens are eligible for TPS. The civil war that El Salvador once endured has been over for nearly two decades, yet Salvadoreans-the life blood of MS-13-are still entitled to the benefits and protections afforded by their Temporary Protected Status designation. While the current administration might like to say its focus is on deporting hardened criminals, the truth is that you can not even begin to address the problem of crime without confronting the subject of immigration. Until Congress decides to do away with TPS-which would entail repealing that portion of the 1990 Immigration Act-or at the very least, circumscribe the Department of Homeland Security’s authority to reauthorize it at will, we will continue to see more casualties in what has become a war against United States citizens.

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