Deportation Feeds a Cycle of Violence in Central America

Immigration reform is on everyone’s mind, from undocumented
workers to employers to members of Congress. One solution, proposed
by House Judiciary Committee Chairman

James Sensenbrenner
(R-Wisconsin) in the form of
HR 4437, is the
mandatory deportation of
all undocumented immigrants
inside the United States. However,
as Sam Logan with
Ben Bain and Kate Kairies write for the International Relations
, a global strategy organization, some current
deportation policies in the United States already lead to a
self-perpetuating cycle of violence.

Some of the largest beneficiaries of current US deportation
policies are street gangs like ‘Mara Salvatrucha’ or MS-13.
According to Logan, Bain, and Kairies, gangs ‘have become a leading
cause of insecurity in Central America.’ Since its beginnings in
Southern California, MS-13 has grown into an organized crime
syndicate operating throughout much of Central America with a
presence on both the east and west coasts of the United States.

These criminal organizations are well versed in US deportation
policies and immigration loopholes. In fact, they may rely on them.
Logan, Bain, and Kairies point out that when gang members are
deported from US prisons, they often ‘have little to depend on in
their home countries, outside of gang connections.’ Deportations
actually fuel criminal organizations like MS-13 by providing them
with new recruits, contacts, methods, and organizational
strategies. The gangs then put these strategies to use by sending
members back into the United States, creating a cycle of

Efforts are underway to break the cycle. The FBI has taken part
in at least one ‘transnational operation’ in Central America to
arrest violent international criminals. According to Logan and his
colleagues, operations like this ‘represent a good start in
tackling this complex, multi-faceted transnational problem.’ While
the authors acknowledge the need for immigration reform, their
focus is on international solutions, not isolationist policies. The
article does not mention Sensenbrenner’s bill to make the estimated
10 million undocumented workers in the United States into felons.
But it leaves the reader wondering if criminalizing and deporting
all undocumented workers isn’t just morally suspect, but
pragmatically wrong-headed as well by adding millions to a cycle of
violence already perpetuated by US deportation policies.
Bennett Gordon

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Deportation Feeds
a Cycle of Violence in Central America

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