The U.S. has historically had one of the most open immigration policies in the world, and the nations that most often criticize us have the most repressive immigration laws. Apparently capitulating to these critics, even some supposed conservative politicians have joined the Gang of Eight to try to force feed another "immigration reform" bill to citizens.
In April, I joined many other local, state, and federal law enforcement experts in Washington D.C. to voice opposition to the flawed amnesty bill misnamed as "The Border Security, Economic, Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" (Senate Bill 744). Needless to say, we did not get the ear of the Gang of Eight, not did we confuse their opinions with real facts and experience. Chris Cane, president of the union for ICE agents, was even threatened with arrest for daring to ask permission to ask a question at the bill's presentation.
What does this have to do with gangs, you ask? It has a lot to do with gangs, Muslim terrorists, and international drug cartels whose primary memberships are made up of undocumented aliens.
Section 3701 of the bill allows illegal aliens, who are also members of criminal street gangs, to receive a waiver to enter the country simply by making the claim that they have renounced their gang affiliation. We all know gang members would never lie to authorities, right? Under this law, these criminal gang members would still be eligible for citizenship even if they have been deported for criminal activity in the past.
In fact, the Department of Homeland Security secretary must waive misdemeanor criminal convictions to determine an illegal immigrant's eligibility for Registered Provisional Immigration (RPI) status. These convictions include serious offenses such as assault, assault on a peace officer, vehicular homicide, possession of drug manufacturing equipment, discharging an explosive device, DUI, and common sexual predator offences.
Section 2102 of the bill directs DHS to ignore state convictions for crimes such as human smuggling, harboring, trafficking, and many gang crimes when approving applications for legalization, even when these convictions under federal statutes would bar them from legalization. This seems to me to be an insult from the federal government to local and state courts and law enforcement.
Perhaps your jurisdiction has experienced the infestation of Southern California-based gangs such as the Sureños, or the transnational Los Angeles-based gangs such as Florence 13, 18th Street, orMara Salvatrucha (MS-13). Illegal immigrants primarily make up the membership of these three largest Los Angeles gangs.
Did you know that one of 10 Los Angeles County residents entered the U.S. illegally? That stat is courtesy of a recent University of Southern California study reported by the Los Angeles Times. The report estimates that these undocumented aliens include 63% from Mexico, 22% from Central America, and 8% from the Philippines, Korea and China.
Offering these criminal immigrants a path to citizenship is unfair and insulting to the millions who have followed the rule of law, paid huge fees, and legally immigrated into the U.S. It is especially offensive to me as a Vietnam War veteran—many served honorably in the military, risking their life and limb to earn their citizenship.
We must consider an important question. Who are the primary victims of criminal illegal alien activity? The answer may surprise you—other legal and illegal people of the same race or ethnic extraction.
Latino gang and drug cartel members mostly murder, extort, kidnap, and assault other Latinos. There's a Houston organization dedicated to reminding us of the terrible cost of our unsecured border. The Remembrance Project and the Houston Eagle Forum run by Maria Espinoza keep these forgotten victims of illegal immigration before the public.
A WBRC report by Dave Gibson told the story of cartel hit man Jose Martinez. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested the 50-year-old illegal immigrant attempting to enter Arizona from Mexico. Martinez had crossed many times before and travelled extensively throughout the U.S., but by luck this time a routine check revealed he was wanted in Lawrence County, Ala., for murder.
When he was interrogated by Lawrence County Sheriff's detectives, he confessed to more than 30 murders across the country—10 of them in California.
Martinez also confessed to a 2006 double murder in Marion County, Fla. The bullet-riddled bodies of Javier Huerta and Gustavo Olivares-Rivas were left in the back of a pick-up truck abandoned in the Ocala National Forest.
"From his statements, he's killed over 30 people throughout the United States so this is what he does. He's an individual who goes around and collects debts for the cartels and kills people," Detective T. J. Watts told the Central Florida News.
This should explode the urban myth that cross-border violence is rare. From my extensive experience in Los Angeles, I can tell you that cross-border violence is not rare at in the illegal alien communities. The cartel and gang enforcers can be active in any state and in any jurisdiction. And this is not only about Latino immigrants.
Other illegal alien hit-men operate in other ethnic communities. Communities established across the country by recently arrived Chinese, African, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern immigrants are victimized just like the Latinos. Sometimes these illegal immigrant killers might be politically or religiously motivated. They enter the U.S. illegally utilizing false identities and often with false documents. They move in and out of illegal immigrant communities with impunity and leave a trail of unsolved violence wherever they go. Many of their crimes go unreported.
A great many of the illegal aliens entered the U.S. under various visa programs and overstayed their visas. This is what some of the 9/11 terrorists and the more recent Boston Marathon bomber suspects did. But under this new bill, an estimated 4.5 million visa overstays—including recent arrivals and document forgers—can attain legal status. This is a recipe for disaster. The U.S. has become the primary target of international terrorists, so we should tighten our border and immigration security not loosen it.
These illegal immigrants also travel internationally. Mexican and Belizean immigration authorities recently arrested an American and two Belizeans as agents of Hezbollah. Lebanese American Rafic Mohammad Labboun Allaboun, and Belizeans George Abdalah Elders and Justin Yasser Safa, were arrested as members of international terrorist organization Hezbollah, in Merida, Mexico, according to a Jan. 1 Associated Press story. Allaboun was extradited to Houston because he was already on a watch list and wanted by American law enforcement.
Without some form of biometric identification verification, paper documents are worthless in today's technological society. The gangs, drug, and human trafficking cartels, and the international terrorists control the counterfeit document industry. They can produce any kind of identification document to any quality standard. We only catch the ones who have poor quality documents. The good ones get past law enforcement. Under section 2102 of the bill, illegal immigrants who have committed document fraud, made false statements to authorities, or have absconded from court ordered removal can still apply for legal status.
Yet this bill is being sold as fair and just immigration reform. Don't be fooled. It's only another politically expedient path to amnesty for criminal illegal aliens. Gangs, cartels, and terrorists will exploit this weakening of our border and immigration security systems. Call, write, and e-mail your U.S. representatives and senators about Senate Bill 744. Don't stay silent.
This article first appeared in Police Magazine on June 24, 2013.
Rafic Labboun is an imam with the Northern California-based Shia Association of Bay Area (Saba Center of San Jose) and Fatimiyya Islamic Center of Hayward.