I was a Long Islander, Brooklyn born – Long Island, that cluttered suburb – and went at things as we taught ourselves, thickly accented, and doing things our own way, first to judge, opinionated; sometimes a correct opinion, sometimes not so correct.
Now, I am a San Diegan, at least by the measure of having lived here more of my life than there. Long Island has remained remarkably out of the news during my life and out of the national consciousness. What national renown it has is from Gatsby, the Hamptons, Fisher and the Buttafuocos, and Grumman. Also Theresa Capputo, iced tea (the cocktail), Harry Chapin (who died driving on its eponymous expressway), and Billy Joel (who keeps trying, though not on the expressway).
This week, however, Long Island got the world’s focus, thanks to Washington and our President. First, there is Anthony Scaramucci, the Mooch, Long Island born and bred. A true Long Island front stabber. One can almost imagine his driving around the “Island” in his IROC and going to the deli to get a meatball parm.
Also this week, the President went to Brentwood, Long Island (not Brentwood in Los Angeles, the place where Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman met their fate by another front stabber) as part of his war on MS-13. To hear the President explain it, out of the bowels of Cental America emerged a savage street gang that then infiltrated the United States, including Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. The reality is a little more complicated and, like how the mujahideen the United States supported in Afghanistan morphed into al-Qaeda, a problem of our own creation.
In the 1980’s, Central America was in turmoil. There were civil wars in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Right versus left. It was during the Cold War and so the United States instinctively sided with the Right to stop the spread of Communism. Communism was the “radical Islamic terrorism” of its day – the mortal threat to our way of life. El Salvadoran refugees from the war came to the United States seeking asylum. Like the asylum-seekers coming to the United States now, the asylum seekers learned that American asylum laws do not welcome all people fleeing for their lives; not those simply fleeing from generalized political or criminal violence. They need to be fleeing for the right reasons, as discussed here. And like asylum seekers coming now, they learned that American systems for handling asylum seekers are in disarray as discussed here and here. People were left either unable to get their applications for asylum decided or they were denied asylum and faced return to their countries. This led to a large underclass in the neglected parts of Los Angeles, already the home of predatory black and Mexican street gangs. Young El Salvadorans and Hondurans organized for their own protection into the street gang, MS-13. Like street gangs do, it supported itself through crime and violence.
Then, along came President Clinton. His triangulations brought us the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), part of his “enlightened” program that included harsh drug sentencing laws, and welfare “reform.” IIRIRA expanded the grounds of deportability and barred aliens from relief from deportation for an expanded list of crimes. In 2004 amendments to the immigration laws and the 2005 Patriot Act, involvement in criminal activity that endangers public safety or national security, became a ground to deny asylum and other forms of relief. The trifecta of lots more criminal grounds for removal, the fact that asylum laws make obtaining asylum very hard, and the unavailability of asylum because of any past possible contacts with gangs or terrorists, meant that many El Salvadoran refugees affiliated with MS-13 got deported to El Salvador. These laws similarly kept people from coming back to the United States, sometimes based on extremely flimsy evidence, such as here and here. Thrust again into a hostile, crime-ridden environment, this time their homeland, they re-formed the gang in El Salvador. A criminal enterprise, it began preying on the people of El Salvador, forcing El Salvadorans to flee to the United States, thus creating a vicious cycle.
It is the result of this vicious cycle that brought MS-13 and then President Trump to Long Island. Some law enforcement authorities are arguing, see here and here, that that President Trump’s threats to deport any undocumented aliens the government encounters on Long Island to crush MS-13 is demonizing the Latin American community. This leads to the Latin American community fearing law enforcement and not coming forward or cooperating with crime-fighting activities. The result is the entrenchment of gangs in these communities, members of which are the most preyed upon. After all it is the people in the Latin-American communities that are the biggest victims of gangs, not Goombas like the Mooch, from Port Washington. So, we create new vicious cycles, more suffering, and more front-stabbing. Kiss, out. Posted July 30, 2017.
23 I&N Dec. 355
1. In re U—- H—-,