The Gang Effect
Illegal immigrants have seemed to be targeted by the United States, but that doesn’t seem to slow the rate at which they come. People ask why do they come if they are just going to be sent back. These immigrants see the light at the end of the tunnel, a life better than the one they live in their own home. They leave because of the dangers that inhabit their neighborhoods. Gangs have terrorized Mexico and Central America and have taken over the lives of these families. Specifically, the gangs in El Salvador. MS-13 and MN-18 are two rival gangs that thrive in the neighborhoods of El Salvador. They feed of the youth by constantly harassing them to join their gang. If they decide to reject the gang, they along with their families would be slaughtered as an example; leaving the community in fear. This fear is what drives them to leave the country in search for a safer life. Since there are gangs all throughout Central America, they decide to come to the United States for a better opportunity. The purpose of this essay is to increase awareness on the role gangs play in immigration. The following includes personal accounts from three immigrants from El Salvador that have experienced gang violence first hand.
Mercedes Garcia came to the U.S. in 1990 when she was 25 years old. She fled El Salvador because of the civil war taking place between the Government and guerillas. The war had been going on for 10 years when she realized that it was time for her to leave the country in search of a better life. Mercedes states that the civil war ended with a compromise between the Government and the guerillas, which left the country vulnerable to another threat. She explains that the civil war was quickly replaced by gang wars, in which she strongly believes is worse than the civil war. A war between MS-13 and MN-18, the two most fierce gangs in all of Central America. Mercedes knew it was bad when she visited her family back home. She remembers, in detail, the murder of a family on the street where her mother lived. She wanted to report the gang to the police, but was stopped abruptly by her mother because of her fear of the gang finding out and making her family their next target. Gallacher, the person in charge of the interview, asked Mercedes, “So no one complains about the gangs?”. Her response was,
“Oh no, that would be a very bad idea. There are signs up in the city that say, ‘you don’t see, you don’t hear, you don’t say.’ The gangs are running things and when young kids are asked to join they really don’t have a choice. If they refuse they are killed. That’s why so many families are trying to get their kids out of the country.”
The fact that Mercedes had the strength to go back home and bring her family back to the U.S. showed strength and courage. Gallacher noticed and asked, “I see you as a very strong person. How did you deve...