Latin Americans hoping to become American citizens have allegedly been denied entry because officials assume their tattoos mean they are involved in gang culture.
Despite having no criminal convictions, they have been turned down for green cards or permanent residency in increasing number in the past five years, according to immigration lawyers.One Mexican immigrant interviewed was asked by officials at the American consulate whether his tattoos were affiliated with gangs.
Marked man: Latin Americans applying for green cards have claimed their applications were denied on the fact that officials often relate their tattoos to gang culture Héctor Villalobos, a 37-year-old handyman, denied the association, and said he got the inkings because he thought they were cool, according to the Wall Street Journal.
However his permanent residency application was denied on account of his tattoos, he claimed.
Immigrants were not told they had been explicitly denied admission because of tattoos but rather ‘on national security grounds’ – a section of immigration law which includes being linked to gangs.
In 2006, immigrant visas were denied to two people on these grounds – this had jumped to 82 refusals by 2010.
The problem has come, said immigration lawyers, from the fact that tattoos common with gang members have crossed over into the general population and become popular with law-abiding citizens.
Dangerous designs: Gang tattoos have crossed over and are being taken by law-abiding members of the public
Body art: It has been suggested by immigration lawyers that their clients tattoos caused them to have their citizenship denied. One design is the opposing pair of theatrical masks – meaning ‘Smile Now, Cry Later’.
A tattoo of the number 13 is also significant in Mexican gang culture because the 13th letter of the alphabet is M which stands for the Mexican Mafia. The teardrop tattoo can have many meanings – mostly related to death. In some incidences, it indicates that the person is a killer and in others that someone in their gang or someone they loved has been killed.
The State Department said it does not reject applications based on an applicant’s tattoos, accoding to the Wall Street Journal.
Source: Daily Mail UK