The government is reporting that gangs are responsible for up to 80 percent of crime in communities across the nation. While the report is not yet public, one central conclusion is that street gangs are growing in size and strength. Many are transitioning from street-level distributors of narcotics to cartel-sized entities that are capable of competing with major drug-trafficking organizations. Increased violence accompanies this trend.
As the Center for Immigration Studies reported in our recent Backgrounder “Taking Back the Streets: ICE and Local Law Enforcement Target Immigrant Gangs,” the growth of gang activity is directly related to the growth of illegal immigration. In fact, the most rapidly-expanding gangs are primarily immigrant-based. Up to 90 percent of some gang membership is illegal alien. Many gangs are already playing pivotal roles alongside drug cartels, in some cases acting as frontline offense as they make their way into the United States. The bottom line is that the United States cannot stop the spread of dangerous gangs into our neighborhoods without addressing immigration. More enforcement and state/local cooperation with federal agencies is imperative. Conversely, anything that amounts to an “amnesty” would only benefit the gangs and facilitate more crime.
UPDATE: The 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment is now available online.