Sunday, August 3, 2014

Children at Our Border

The problem of illegal immigrants is not new. Illegals have been coming into the United States since 1776, but what has changed over the years is the countries of origin that they come from.

Today, they tend to be browner and come from the south instead of the east.

More than 60,000 have come since January, 2014, many of them being minors who were traveling alone. This year has seen a 117 percent increase in the number of unaccompanied children under age 12 caught at the U.S.-Mexico Border, compared with last year.

Growing poverty, unemployment, and drought in Central America all play a role in the current surging immigration numbers. Also a factor, is the false belief among many children that U.S. immigration laws will allow them to remain in the United States if they can just get into the U.S.

What many people don’t know, it is the gangs of Central America (a rare American export), that are behind much of the disinformation. If young children travel north they are charged a human trafficker fee by the gangs, if they don’t agree to pay they can be killed, held for ransom as kidnap victims until family members pay up, or forced to “mule” drugs across the border "to pay off their fee".

The main groups behind this push are the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio Diesiocho (18), both gangs being very active in Central America, that have their early roots in Los Angeles, California.

The Barrio 18 (or 18th Street) gang, is the older of the two. Both formed in and near the Rampart District of Los Angeles. Barrio 18 formed in the mid-late 1960s and was a mixed race gang that included a lot of Mexican Nationals. These were recent immigrants, or the children of recent immigrants who banded together to protect themselves from more established Chicano gangs like Clanton Street. Soon, 18th Street became the biggest Hispanic gang in L.A.

Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) formed in the 1980s after Salvadoran youth, many who wore their hair long and looked more like Stoners or Heavy Metal enthusiasts than thugs, banded together to protect themselves from predominately Mexican gangs like 18th Street. Soon, they started to resemble the more common "Cholo" image of Chicano/Mexican-American gangsters. Soon, other Central American youth and even non-Central American youth began to join MS.

As members of both gangs were deported they started large factions in their home countries, mainly El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. While they were known for being violent in L.A., they took it to another level in Central America. They literally ran some neighborhoods and penal institutions!

Recently, there was a peace treaty between the two groups in Central America after years of bloodshed, fighting over neighborhood turfs, and violent riots that left scores dead. Many experts feel these “overtures towards peace” were really just extortion attempts at Central American governments if the gangsters promised “not to act out.” They previously extorted everything from taxi cab drivers, bus drivers, to mom and pop stores. In addition, as Mexican Drug Cartels used overland cocaine routes from South America, they tapped into the drug trade and protected drug routes. They also worked with “coyotes” or human smugglers, often jumping young boys into their gangs and forcing young girls into prostitution.

The increased role they’ve played lately is telling young and desperate kids that their ticket to riches and fame is to come with them to the border, cross into the United States, and then they’ll have it made for the rest of their life. Many of these youth get caught and placed into detention in the U.S.

The problem is, as one Mexican Consulate member stated recently in private, many are too young to communicate well even in Spanish. Some are as young as five years old! They are scared, afraid to trust anybody (as has been ingrained in them by the violent gang members), and legal proceedings can be very long and complicated. It can take months before they can get help.

“Immigration Reform” is once again a major issue in Washington D.C. and along our southern border.

Both Democrats and Republicans point the finger at each other in the growing polarization and game of American politics with little action; meanwhile, little children suffer, both at the hands of our government and that of Central American gangs.  

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