Critics of the sanctuary city crackdown state it will chill immigrants from assisting ICE go after MS-13 gang members, however, the feds say they have loads of tools including a change in visa status – to gain cooperation from the immigrant community.
The options seem to be paying off, with researchers from ICEs Homeland Security Investigations saying civic alliance is making a big difference in the fight against the lethal and callous MS-13 gang.
Within an atmosphere where cooperating with law enforcement can be a death sentence imposed by the gang, most illegal immigrants seem to be more concerned about how to obtain legal resident status than monetary reward, said one investigator who declined to be identified.
But at the exact same time, critics warn that the visa tool should be used only sparingly, since it could result in fraudulent claims.
One of those ferocious defenders is Eddy Wang, Section Chief, HSI Contraband Smuggling and Gang Unit, who stated, We wouldnt be able to shut many of our cases without the alliance of the immigrant community.
Gang members prey about the immigrant community by co-opting their children, exploiting the vulnerable with drugs, and violence. They dont need to be victims in order that they work with us.
Whats more, Wang stated, in spite of the public perception that ICE/HSI agents conduct massive sweeps through prohibited immigrant communities, they actually reach out to them and explain the options available to allow them to live without the specter of gang violence.
We’ve got an extremely robust victim assistance and community outreach program that educates the illegal immigrant community what their options are for legal resident status if they cooperate with law enforcement, ” Wang explained.
Among these are asylum, the S visa for witnesses and informants; T visa, which applies to victims of human trafficking; along with also the U visa, for victims of violence.
Based on spokeswoman Rita Moore, the agency holds webinars for law enforcement and stakeholder groups about the U-Visa along with other immigration relief programs.In the previous two years, USCIS has held 21 national webinars for more than 4,000 law enforcement officers, community groups, and professionals, she explained.
However, Jessica Vaughn, Director of Policy Studies, Center for Immigration Studies, cautions against excessively promoting the program due to the elevated risk of fraud and says law enforcement has got other options.
I believe it is a great tool if used sparingly to reward individuals who are critical in particularly significant prosecutions, not only as a back-door green card for anybody who has become the victim of a crime, Vaughn said. Experience shows when it is encouraged, big numbers of individuals attempt to utilize it as a way to keep here, even when they have nothing significant of value to offer in any instance.
Vaughn said individuals will go so far as to make up stories of being victimized and search around for a police department that will sign off to the U visa program.
According to Vaughn, ICE often prefers Significant Public Benefit Parole since they have more control over the watch and they can withhold or terminate the benefit if the watch becomes stubborn or turns out to really have nothing worthwhile to help the instance. When the U visa were provided rather, they cant take it back readily and the victim could clam up, leaving them with nothing.
Any police department could tell you stories of fraudulent victimization claims to attempt to get the visa, ” she explained. I promise you, if there’s an appropriate chance to utilize it into a gang case, ICE is currently at the top of it.
Wang countered by saying fraud is difficult because ultimately law enforcement has to confirm and sign off to the victims program.
Wang said he was frustrated by what he thought was the distortion of the program by particular interest groups, adding the primary job of HSI in fighting crime was to work with victims, regardless of their immigration status, and arrest offenders.
We dont check the immigration status of victims or witnesses, Wang explained. When you politicize public security theres no winners, only losers.
Effective suppression of MS-13 relies heavily on the cooperation of residents in the Central American community and even gang members themselves looking to conserve their own skin or escape the clutches of a violent culture. But in order to achieve this bond of trust, a workable carrot has to be provided.
Wang stated HSI is currently seeing the fruit of these labors.
Joseph J. Kolb is a regular contributor to Fox News.
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