Gang Tattoos and Immigration a Bad Mix

This example shows affiliation to a criminal gang in Mexico. To those unfamiliar, it looks innocent.
This example shows affiliation to a criminal gang in Mexico. To those unfamiliar, it looks innocent.

Many immigrants are finding a new hurdle to face: tattoos. Even if they sail through the other requirements to get a visa or Green card, immigrants may be subjected to stripping in search of tattoos. ICE frequently will request this of those trying to enter or at U.S. embassies. Even if the immigrant has worked in the USA and then returned to their home country and then tries to reenter legally, the cool tattoo may delay his return or stop it.

ICE looks for related tattoos of criminal gangs, whether they are from Mexico, Japan or Russia. They catalog the tattoos and know key elements that are common with a drug or criminal gang. If the criteria fits and is in the tattoo, it could be a problem. Even if the person swears that they have never had any affiliation but simply like the artwork, ICE is suspicious. Many of the codes or insignia of drug gangs use popular abbreviations or acronyms that artists also use because it is "cool".

Immigrants should only have tattoos that have symbols and words not associated with criminal gangs. Before they choose a symbol to have tattooed on their body, they should research if the symbol or words have criminal affiliations.

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Comments 2 comments

yoginijoy profile image

yoginijoy 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

Very true. I have heard that this is becoming more of an issue these days. Interesting topic.


perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

I agree. Tattoos seem to have a good and bad side to them.

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