Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) announced today that legislation he authored to address gangs has been included in an immigration enforcement bill moving through the House Judiciary Committee. The Congressman’s legislation, found in Section 311 of Title III of the Strength and Fortify Enforcement Act (SAFE Act – H.R. 2278), is included for the purpose of providing the Department of Homeland Security and the Attorney General with the power to deport or make inadmissible an individual who they know or have reason to believe is or was a member of a criminal gang and/or participated in criminal gang activities.
Congressman Forbes originally introduced the legislation during the 109th Congress, which passed the House in 2006 as part of a larger bill. The inclusion of his bill again in the 113th Congress in the SAFE Act, is a result of the Congressman’s efforts the last several years to bring the issue of gang violence and crime to the forefront, and address this palpable threat to America’s safety and security.
“The introduction of this bill will help curb the increasing threat of gang violence posed by those illegal immigrants who participate or have participated in gang activity. No longer unique to those states sharing a border with Mexico, illegal immigrant fueled gangs are making it difficult for Americans in all 50 states to go about their lives without fear of being victimized,” Forbes said. “Gangs routinely participate in any number of illicit activities, but alarmingly are contributing to higher murder rates and the possible infiltration of our law enforcement agencies.” Forbes continued, “As part of a larger immigration enforcement bill, my colleagues and I hope this legislation will not only rein in the practice of entering this country illegally, but will ultimately help promote legal immigration, continuing the tradition of America’s borders accepting new ideas and new people, who share the same zeal for freedom and equality we do.”
According to the FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC), there are 1.4 million active gang members in 33,000 gangs across the United States. Just this past March, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released 2,000 illegal immigrants from detention due to budget cuts – while the agency indicated at that time, those being released were non criminals and other low risk offenders, 28% had been charged with criminal offenses, some of which were aggravated felonies. Furthermore, according to a report released by the NGIC, criminal gangs are responsible for 48% of violent crime in most jurisdictions, and upwards of 90% in Texas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Illinois, and Massachusetts. Congressman Forbes’ bill provides our enforcers with the necessary means to swiftly and directly deal a blow to gang violence in America.
# # #