Tuesday, August 17, 2004

New York Times: Hispanic gangs follow rural jobs

"Gangs have been a fixture of urban life in the United States for more than 150 years, making their presence known in inner-city ghettos and poor immigrant neighborhoods ever since the Irish settled the Five Points district of New York. But as Carter and other small-town cops in America have discovered over the past few years, gangs are no longer just a big-city problem."

"Gang activity has traditionally been a function of immigration and labor-migration patterns. Today, with those patterns changing -- with unskilled jobs shifting from cities to rural regions, with sprawl pushing suburbs and exurbs deeper into the countryside -- gangs are cropping up in unexpected places: tiny counties and quaint villages, farming communities and cookie-cutter developments, small towns and tourist resorts. In Toombs County, Ga., for instance, 10 Hispanic gangs roam an area marked by cotton, tobacco and onion fields, according to Art Villegas, who tracks gang activity there for the sheriff's office."

"The blue-collar jobs that do not require much training or fluency in English are increasingly found in the countryside. Thanks in part to the explosive growth of the fast-food industry and the huge agro-conglomerates that service it, giant food factories now dot pastoral America. The plants actively recruit south of the border and in poor Hispanic neighborhoods on both coasts of the United States, drawing legions of immigrants to places barely big enough to register on state maps."

The New York Times

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