Just one of the several real dangers that rides alongside the flood of illegal immigrant children over the U.S. is now surfacing: members of the cruel and vicious MS-13 gang are taking advantage of the stressed, over-worked, multi-tasking border patrol agents and are illegally crossing the border — and are recruiting pre-teen members from the ranks of the Central American children fleeing to the U.S. If successful with their recruitment (and they have never not been successful – who says no to them?) this gang’s numbers will swell both here and in their home countries, and drug cartels and gang violence will flourish here in the U.S., as well as become even more pervasive in Central America.
MS-13 is an international gang that started in the 1980’s and is tied to drug trafficking, murder for hire, and many other illegal activities. Initially formed in California by Salvadoran illegals, MS-13 has, over time, spread like a deadly virus through Central America. This gang is notorious for their merciless revenge and deadly retributions. The notorious cruelty of MS-13 earned them a path to be recruited by the Sinaloa Cartel battling against the Los Zetas in an ongoing drug war south of the United States border.
We don’t like to think about these facts associated with desperate children crossing our borders, but they are real – violence and illness are real threats embedded into this sensitive issue. Shawn Moran, of the National Border Patrol Council, said the gang leaders are recruiting pre-teens from the 57,000 unaccompanied youths and others who have come to the U.S. from Central America in the past year.
Moran relates that border agents have witnessed the gang recruiting at the Border Patrol’s facility in Nogales, Arizona, and that gang members are using a Red Cross phone bank there to “recruit, enlist and pressure” these vulnerable pre-teens. So, in a tragically ironic twist kids facing gang threats in Central America and fleeing to the U.S. are facing the exact same danger here, and our safety is further endangered, to boot. And it is not lost on any thinking person that these dangerous gangs were started on the West Coast of the U.S. by illegal immigrants from Central America in the first place.
The seeds sown in the 1980’s by illegal crossings are blossoming now, and we need to heed the lesson staring us in the face, and think about future generations before we throw our arms open wide to any individual or group our collective hearts go out to.
Texas State Senator Dan Patrick (R) said earlier this week that roughly 100,000 illegal immigrants living in his state are gang members. This is unacceptable for Texas, and for the rest of the country. We need to choose – bring in these children and endanger our own country, or send them back humanely – and begin talking with our dollars.
No more aid of any kind for countries that cannot protect their own and foster safe, legal immigration to the United States. We need to bring these children to the U.S. in a way that is safe and legal, and begins in their home country. Systems must be put in place to do this immediately.
We want you here, immigrant children, with your cultures intact. We want you to add to the beauty and diversity that is America. But without rules there is no order, and without order there is chaos. We need to look at our own children and decide – it may endanger their health and safety – either now, or in the future – to not send these littlest victims home, for now.
Decisive leadership can be heartbreaking, and life is not easy. But we must choose the best of all lousy options available so that we still have a country to welcome these children to, in the years to come.
Deirdre Reilly has written one humor book, and authored a syndicated family life column for Gatehouse Media for 13 years. She has won a Massachusetts Press Award for humor, her op-eds have been published in the Boston Herald and The Hartford Courant, and she has had short fiction published in literary journals. Deirdre was raised in Columbia, Md., and now lives outside Boston, Ma. She enjoys outdoor pursuits, and is obsessed with the care and happiness of a retired carriage horse named Nello that she bought for a few hundred dollars on a menopausal whim.