More Violence in Long Island

August 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

Another Hispanic immigrant was attacked in Long Island this weekend, allegedly by a group of white youth. In the book I wrote about a similar attack against Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant who was stabbed to death near the spot where the latest victim was attacked. Seven white teenagers were charged and are waiting to be tried in the earlier case.

The attacks highlight a host of issues faced in many suburbs across the country, where immigrants are moving in next to established white communities that are not always happy to have them. As I argue in the book, this hostility has played a role in fostering the gangs, which welcome alienated immigrant youth looking for protection and respect in neighborhoods where they find very little of either. The attacks are also are a reminder that gang violence is not just a minority problem.

In a related update, the Obama administration has decided to stay the course when it comes to the Bush administration’s immigration policy. Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security chief, says she will keep up the focus on deportations and border enforcement. This includes Operation Community Shield, an anti-gang program that has been criticized by local police and legal experts as dangerous and unconstitutional.

So far, this strategy hasn’t had much effect in uprooting the serious and complex conflicts faced in communities like Patchogue and Hempstead. And so, the violence continues.

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