With our fair city currently being besieged by no less than 20 gang-related acts of violence in the past month or so, it should be clear to all that Lodi, at least the Eastside, has a serious gang problem.
Most rational Americans see these street terrorists as basically low-life common criminals bent on instilling fear and intimidation through any means necessary in order to gain some perverted form of "street cred." Most have at least one or two family members with gang ties. The use and trafficking of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs is a major contributing factor in this extremely lurid and self-destructive lifestyle.
While I personally have had little to no contact with these street thugs, I've actually been mistaken for a cop on more than one occasion, something I consider a great compliment. It is simply beyond my ability to comprehend how one could have so little respect for not only other peoples' lives, but your own life.
I mean, once you dedicate your being to the "gang," you are just one bad decision away from throwing your life away either by being killed, or by being sentenced to prison.
Some, in the blogs at least, have been so cynical as to say that at least most of the violence has been against other gang members, where there is very little sympathy. That form of rationalizing is tempered somewhat when you consider not only the cost of basically warehousing the perpetrator for the rest of his life, but paying the medical bills, also often for life of his victim(s).
And anybody who thinks that immigration, both legal and illegal, has nothing to do with this must have their head buried in the sand. I mean, these gang members who have been shooting up and terrorizing the Eastside are not skinheads, nor are they the predominately African-American Bloods and Crips. They are overwhelmingly affiliated with the Mexican gangs that go by the names, "Norteños," or northerners, and "Sureños," or southerners.
It should be needless to say that the vast majority of Mexican immigrants are very good, decent, hard-working people.
I myself, though, don't need yet another reason to insist that the government enforce current immigration law and close the border. I find it hard to fathom, however, how some in the media could possibly make the case for ever more lax immigration policy. Those who do are simply looking for more future voters they feel will keep them in power.
The current rate of job growth in California is anemic at best. If you throw in immigration, both legal and illegal, with birthrates that are off the charts, the prospects that the influx of firstor even second-generation Hispanics immigrants finding gainful employment is not good.
The likelihood of large numbers of young unemployed Hispanics being seduced by the Norteños or Sureños, however, is great.
Unfortunately, the one dominant political party in power in Sacramento has, for all intents and purposes, turned a blind eye toward any serious attempt to stem the flow of illegal immigrants from south of the border, and has actually, one may argue, encouraged it.
Lodi will likely continue to see more and more visitors from the less hospitable regions of Mexico, where the drug cartels have for the most part taken over. Most of these immigrants are indeed honest and hard-working, like the proprietors of the many fine taco trucks here in Lodi. Unfortunately, if this current trend of gang violence continues, you and I may have to soon dodge the occasional stray bullet in order to feast on these delicacies.
I do not think I want a taco that bad.
J. Kurt Roberts, a Lodi writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.