Editorial: Gangs and the Rhetoric of Hate

It is likely that some among the tens of thousands of Central American youths may have committed a crime. However, it is unfair to use isolated cases to smear them all, and it is vile to link them with Dreamer students
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Editorial: Gangs and the Rhetoric of Hate
Agentes de ICE capturan extranjeros criminales, reingresos ilegales y fugitivos.
Foto: Charles Reed / U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

In recent months, a series of murders of Long Island youths allegedly committed by the MS-13 gang are being used to exacerbate criticism against immigrants, particularly young ones.

From his Twitter account, President Donald Trump charges at his predecessor Barack Obama, blaming his policies on immigration for the gang’s growth. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also holds sanctuary cities responsible for “dangerously undermining the process” of combating the gangs. The conservative media links the murderers and Dreamers.

It is a tragedy to see the type of gang violence that forces families out of Central America replicate in some U.S. cities. That is the phenomenon of a transnational gang that originated in Los Angeles in the 1980s and spread across the northern triangle of Central America.

Similarly, this is a reminder of the sort of danger endured by the people arriving at the southern border seeking asylum. They are running away from a real threat.

The FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center estimates that there are nearly 10,000 gang members in the U.S. and more than 30,000 worldwide, most of them in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

The issue of gangs is not new in our country, and it is not exclusively connected with immigration. The social, economic and familial conditions of minority youths leave them vulnerable to the sense of belonging offered by the gangs. Now, like yesterday, prevention and intervention are urgently needed to prevent them from falling in that trap.

It is likely that some among the tens of thousands of Central American youths may have committed a crime. However, it is unfair to use isolated cases to smear them all, and it is vile to link them with Dreamer students.

Clearly, Trump needs Obama to be able to speak ill of someone, and his government needs tragedies in order to feed the anti-immigrant sentiment.

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