Four Books About Criminal Aliens

By Wayne Lutton
Volume 8, Number 2 (Winter 1997-1998)
Issue theme: "Australia's identity crisis"

Supporters of mass immigration portray newcomers as upstanding, hardworking folks-possessing "strong family values"-who simply want the opportunity to "revitalize" neighborhoods gone to ruin. This cheerful view holds that mass immigration is a perpetual motion machine fueling one economic windfall after the other, as these enterprising aliens improve life, not merely for themselves, but for all Americans.

While there is an element of truth to this version of the immigrant experience, it fails to provide a fully accurate portrait of the millions of foreign nationals who move about the United States. Borders loosely open to immigrants with benign aspira-tions are equally open to people who have a far different intent.


Wayne Lutton, Ph.D., is associate editor of The Social Contract and, along with John Tanton, author of The Immigration Invasion. Criminal activities committed by aliens have escalated drama-tically. The foreign-born crowd local, state, and federal prisons across the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, at any given time, around a quarter of federal inmates are aliens, hailing from more than 120 countries. "If we think this figure is high, what is worse is that seven out of eight [criminal] aliens are either released or given probation and never serve time in prison," reports Rep. LaMar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee.

These statistics do not imply that all or most immigrants are law-breakers. But disturbingly large numbers see crime as their avenue to success in the American land of opportunity.

But for the Immigration Act of 1965, the Refugee Act of 1980, and the general failure to control illegal immigration, the challenge to public order presented by criminal aliens should be winding down by now. The 1965 Act opened the United States to mass Third World immigration. Many more have entered as "refugees." The social effects of these measures were not felt until a critical mass of foreign colonists arrived on the shores of North America. As U.S. News & World Report conceded, "it is startling the degree to which the clout of newer ethnic gangs is reflective of immigration trends."

Our current immigrant crime wave has come to the attention of not only victims and police profes-sionals across the country, but to journalists and academic crimi-nologists. This is reflected in a growing literature on the topic, a sampling of which we consider in this issue of The Social Contract.

Veteran newspaper reporter William Kleinknecht provides a useful overview of the foreign crime groups that have cascaded onto the American landscape. In The New Ethnic Mobs he reviews the history of organized crime in America, noting that "mass immigration has long been a precursor of upheavals in the criminal underworld."

According to Kleinknecht, foreign criminals tend to be more violent than our home-grown variety. For example, readers are introduced to the posses, Jamaican drug dealers who engage in the quaint practice of "jointing" (dismembering people in bathtubs with chainsaws).

"Law enforcement at all levels is severely handicapped since few officers are capable of understanding the language and customs of the ethnically �diverse' criminal organizations." Vietnamese gangs, sporting such names as "Born to Kill," "Oriental Killers," and "Cheap Boys," are ruthless, violent, enterprising, and constantly mobile. They first arrived in the U.S. as "refugees" after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Many former South Vietnamese military personnel are involved in felonies ranging from drug dealing, auto theft, credit card, welfare, and Medicaid fraud, to computer chip theft.

Concerning our one-time anti-communist "allies," San Jose, California police sergeant Doug Zwemke is quoted here as observing, "They [Vietnamese] leave no criminal stone unturned. With most ethnic groups you will have a guy who is a burglar, but he isn't macho enough to do robberies. Or you will have a guy who does robberies and he won't commit burglaries. An auto thief is an auto thief. But when you put a Vietnamese robber in prison, you have also put away a burglar, an extortionist, a car thief and an insurance fraud artist. They are doing it all, and that's what separates them from mainstream crooks."

Additional chapters of Kleinknecht's book are devoted to Chinese, Russian, Korean, Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Arab, and various black criminals. They are not only violent, but this author makes the case that they will likely end up costing the average citizen more than the Italian mafia did in the past.

Law enforcement at all levels is severely handicapped, since few officers are capable of understanding the language and customs of the ethnically "diverse" criminal organizations. And how do you penetrate the new ethnically-based criminal organizations, unless you manage to recruit their own co-nationals? As the author concludes, "Tomor-row's chief racketeers will not be Italian, Chinese, black, Hispanic, or Russian. They will be all of the above...More ominously, these crime groups are showing an increasing propensity for joining forces."

Phil Williams of the University of Pittsburgh has edited a symposium on Russian Organized Crime. For the entry of the so-called "Russian Mafia" we can thank the Cold War politics of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, signed into law by President Ford. This act required the Soviet Union to grant exit visas to Jews in order to trade with the U.S. Despite the collapse of the USSR, Russian Jews and some Evangelical Christians are still permitted to enter as special "refugees" [apparently fleeing the on-set of democracy].

The contributors to Russian Organized Crime agree that criminal organizations have emerged as a major factor in Russian politics and the Russian economy. There is not one "Mafia"-type organization there. Rather, various groups, almost all of them ethnically-based, have informally divided Russia into territorial zones of influence. St. Petersburg, to cite a representative case, is beset by Tamboy, Chechen, and Kazan gangs.

This would be of relatively little concern to Americans were it not for the fact that various Russian criminal elements have been permitted to migrate to this country posing as "refugees," as legal immigrants of various classifications, or as "tourists" and "students" who overstay their visas.

First congregating in the Brighton Beach section of greater New York, "Russian" networks have spread to Florida, California, and the Northern Pacific Coast region. They have been involved in lucrative fuel-tax swindles, drug trafficking, credit card counterfeiting, insurance and health care fraud, as well as car theft, contract murders, and extortion of athletes.

Alan Block, a criminologist out of UCLA, frankly states that Russian criminal organizations could not flourish in the New York Metropolitan area without the help of local and state politicians. He recounts that Governor Mario Cuomo was publicly tied to organized crime and that his son, Andrew, who ran his father's two gubernatorial campaigns, accepted contributions from Russian/American sham corpora-tions engaged in fuel tax fraud. Just how far the official corruption extends has yet to be determined.

Peter Huston, a student of Asian culture, has written an excellent summary of the work of Chinese crime groups now operating in North America. Opening with a review of pertinent Chinese history and cultural patterns, he discusses the importance to Chinese of the sense of fatalism, of tradition, and concern for maintaining social order ("getting along" without rocking the boat, if you will). Huston explains how "saving face" plays a role in criminal relationships.

Other chapters present a detailed history of Chinese secret societies, their role in political events in the 20th century, and how they became involved in international criminal activity. There is no clear distinction between politics and crime. The two go together-as they do in many other countries. [As I write this, a front-page story in the London Daily Telegraph for 19 November 1997 is headlined, "Criminal cash �put Clinton in White House'"].

The author then devotes attention to the various criminal enterprises Chinese are involved with in the United States and Canada, such as the drug trade. An entire chapter is concerned with the smuggling of illegal aliens. Other Asian criminal gangs are also considered.

Ko-lin Chin, a professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Rutger's University, has written a remarkable account of New York City's Chinese criminal underworld, Chinatown Gangs. Gangs have a long history in China. They came to the U.S. with the first Chinese coolies in the mid-19th century and flourished here until Chinese immigration ended with the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. The post-1965 renewal of Asian immigration has led to the rebirth of Chinese criminal activity in North America.

Professor Chin contends that a shadow government controls American Chinatowns, where there is no clear distinction between the legal and illegal sectors of society. Criminal organizations are inexorably linked to Chinatown's political economy.

New York City's Chinatown is dominated by six adult organizations. They hire younger criminals as street muscle and to carry out the extortion of protection money from businesses operating in their respective territories (commonly extending for a city block or two). The majority of Chinese tend to see this extortion as just another cost of doing business. Indeed, as the author notes, Chinese entrepreneurs look upon American city health and building inspectors with greater loathing than the criminal gangs who shake them down.

In addition to extortion and drug trafficking, smuggling Chinese aliens into the U.S. has become increasingly lucrative. Smugglers charge an average of $30,000 per person for what is a relatively risk-free endeavor (under current U.S. law, the penalty for smuggling aliens is a fraction of what it is for dealing in drugs).

In recent years, Chin reports, the American public has been subjected to a massive deception campaign conducted by gang-affiliated tongs. They hope to convince outsiders that the tongs are merely patriotic benevolent associations. This effort has met with great success, and has helped blunt attempts to curtail Chinese crime in America.

Denying entry to foreign criminals and the rapid deportation from America of convicted felons are high on Professor Chin's list of recommen-dations for dealing with this problem. He emphasizes that the ability of the INS to deport Chinese criminal aliens has been subverted by Congressional interference and specific Presidential orders, such as the granting of blanket protection to so-called "pro-democracy" demonstrators.

Law enforcement professionals in the U.S. and other Western countries are demanding that more resources be devoted to the problems now associated with international organized crime. However, no where have I heard them call for an end (or even a moratorium) on further immigration as a crime-fighting tool.

In truth, we should not be experiencing a new alien crime wave. It is well to remind ourselves that these are people we have no duty to admit to our country in the first place. We owe neither them nor their respective homelands anything. These are folks who simply should not be here. But they are, and in growing numbers, thanks to the successful efforts of the pro-mass immigration coalition of ethnic, business, religious, and political special interests.


[Each of these four books is available at The Social Contract Press - see the ad inside the back cover.]