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Interested in learning more about the political and historical context of ICE-local police gang enforcement?
Join NIPNLG’s community webinar on October 30th to take stock of the current and past developments on gang related enforcement that have become a core political justification for deportations under the Trump Administration.
For more details and how to sign up, click here: http://nationalimmigrationproject.org/webinar_gang-database.html
During the past few months, President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have used inflammatory rhetoric vilifying immigrants as gang members in order to justify extreme immigration policies and even police misconduct. At the same time, ICE has issued press release after press release praising the mass raid and deportation of immigrants, particularly Latinx youth, due to their “gang related” activities. Most recently, Congress joined the vitriol by introducing one of the most sweeping gang bills in years, expansive enough to demonize nearly any group, club or association of individuals.
But communities on the ground know that reality is entirely different. In the past few months, ICE’s “gang related” operations have resulted in:
– ICE shooting a U.S. citizen grandfather in a home raid;
– ICE severely injuring a gunshot victim during a raid after local police erroneously placed the victim into its gang database;
Arrests of unaccompanied minors and DACA youth based on flimsy allegations of gang affiliation;
– Mass sweeps and collateral arrests: during ICE’s most recent operation targeting “gang related” youth, 70% of those detained were collateral arrests, meaning they were bystanders and not the intended target of the raid.
Moreover, while ICE often bases its determination of gang affiliation on local police gang databases, there is growing consensus that such databases are deeply problematic. For years, police gang databases and taskforces have come under sharp criticism for their lack of due process, inaccuracies, and racial bias. Communities across the country have called for greater accountability and some local police have decided to shut them down.
U.S. incarceration and deportation policies have proven to be—not only failed strategies for combating gang violence—but also key generators of gang violence in Central American.
History may provide important lessons here. Both domestic and international scholarship has long criticized gang taskforce initiatives as a cause of extrajudicial killings, police corruption, and an ineffective public safety tool. In fact, U.S. incarceration and deportation policies have proven to be—not only failed strategies for combating gang violence—but also key generators of gang violence in Central American. History also shows us, that despite this scholarship, politicians continue to vilify youth of color in order to justify pro-incarceration and pro-deportation policies. Stereotyping youth of color as “super-predators” or “gang bangers,” these racialized tactics are not new and do real long-term damage to communities.