L.A. Athlete May Have Been Murdered By An Illegal

18th_street_tagging.jpgYou know the economy is bad when even gangs need to outsource.

The AP is reporting that the suspected gang member accused of killing 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw Jr. may have been in the country illegally. They will investigate 19-year-old Pedro Espinoza for possible deportation once his current murder charge “has run its course.”

Back on March 12, I opened a can of worms by bringing up the sudden increase in local gang violence. Innocent kids were getting hit left and right, and I made the statement that any gang-related first offense should be prosecuted by military draft or outright deportation. One of the comments from that post is ringing in my ear:

It insinuates that many gang members are undocumented immigrants when I can tell you many of them were born here in Los Angeles.

That may, in fact, be true. Just not in this case.

39 thoughts on “L.A. Athlete May Have Been Murdered By An Illegal”

  1. Jason, you seem like a nice enough guy, but I would hope we hold ourselves to a higher standard than the one that encourages the use of terminology like “an illegal.”

  2. I doubt the military would be particularly interested in having criminals with no desire to actually be in the military as their new recruitment pool. I’m no tactition, but I suspect unwillingly conscripted criminals might be somewhat unreliable on the battlefield.

  3. “Illegal” implies “illegal immigrant”, and was used in its shortened form for headline brevity. An “immigrant” is a person that is not born on U.S. soil, and “illegal” means that they have entered this country in manner that violates federal law.

    From Wikipedia:

    United States

    Main article: Illegal immigration to the United States#Terminology

    Terms used in the United States include:

    * illegal alien [6]
    * illegal immigrant
    * undocumented immigrant/migrant/alien/worker/resident
    * unauthorized immigrant/migrant/alien/worker/resident
    * paperless immigrant/migrant/alien/worker/resident
    * immigrant “without immigration status”
    * out of status
    * Unnaturalized immigrant

    I guess I could have gone with “L.A. Athlete May Have Been Murdered By An Undocumented immigrant/migrant/alien/worker/resident.”

  4. His being here without papers isn’t the problem, its gangs and poverty that is the problem.

    We can’t dehumanize people by calling them “illegals” that’s part of the problem.

    I hope people don’t get sucked into this propaganda type thing. Poor people do really messed up things to other poor people (or people who live by them,) maybe if we think about how we can prevent people from being poor that will do more to stop people from dying than going this guy is “illegal” if we got rid of “them” people would stop dying, because this is just not true.

    “that any gang-related first offense should be prosecuted by military draft” Burns

    While I hate war, I think this is great idea. My fiancé’s dad was a hell raiser Midwesterner of Scottish extraction and the judge gave him two choices jail or the military (he’s told me this story several times, his hell raising feats seem to get more dramatic which each retelling.) He obviously chose the military. He looked pretty awesome with his fire red flat top. He went on to make a career out of it he lived in Japan, the UK, Vietnam, Germany…and went on to be a pretty great human being.

    The military isn’t that picky, especially the army. If you’re going to be in a gang join the biggest gang and the one that pays out to your family when you die. I don’t think 18th Street has a family benefits plan.


  5. Oh Jason you didn’t just pull out the Wikipedia source…how can we have a discussion when you just pulled the Wiki card?


  6. Jason an interesting post. As always you just open it up and let it rip.
    The term “an illegal” is simply an identifier. I am open to any other descriptor who is not here with the legal permission of the US Government.

    Gang member would have worked as well as that is really the core of the story in this instance and all over LA. Gang warfare is cyclical in this city, which gang is the instigator remains for debate. My shiny bits is that the gang member identifier is enough to id the root of a murder.

  7. Jason,

    One thing you should remember about the spread of gangs in North America in general is that many current Latino gangs were created right here in good ol’ LA (18th ST, Maras Salvatruchas, etc). During the 70’s and 80’s many of the leaders of these gangs were summarily deported to their original countries of origin. This in turn caused the spread and reach of these gangs into nearly all of Central America, Belize and Costa Rica being notable exceptions. With roots in several countries it wasn’t long before an international commerce in guns, cars, cash and drugs was established, with LA becoming it’s hub of operations.

    Further, upon the deportation of gang leadership, enforced standards of conduct went right out the window as the young guard took over. This meant increased random acts of violence that was frowned upon by the more mature leadership.

    My point is perhaps it is better to keep an “illegal” as you put it within our own system, rather than deport the problem only to have it return double-fold upon our communities.

  8. an “illegal” what?

    bootleg DVD or unlicensed merchandise?

    The term illegal may be acceptable terminology for some people regarding undocumented folks, but it is also the war cry of racists and minutemen screaming cultural invasion, who are racist as fruck. Kind of like how the term darkie is technically correct because it refers to the darkness of a black person’s skin, but has been spit from the mouths of so many racist it’s considered taboo.

    Anyways, would this be worth note if the killer was legal? And what is your point exactly about the killer being illegal?
    This kind of whiney sensationalist crap is almost as ignorant as someone bitching about illegals costing so much $$ in social services, oh wait.

  9. I usually have no problem referring to someone who is in the country illegally as an illegal immigrant any more than referring to someone who is operating a vehicle without a license is an “illegal driver.”

    Its a shame that whenever issues like these come up, people would rather debate over the terminology than the issues themselves.

    And that said, I don’t hold this kid’s immigration status, considering he was brought over as a minor, to the same standards as an adult. He may be undocumented, but do you honestly expect him and thousands of other kids to tell their parents not to bring them across the border?

    He is now an adult, and clearly a scumbag, but the problem isn’t that he’s here “illegally,” its more that another violent offender was let out of prison due to overcrowding.

  10. Jason,

    Upon reflection, I feel the desire to attempt to punch another hole in your proposal.

    The logic of sending hardened felons into military service not only to receive weapons and extensive military training, but as one poster noted above, flood the military with conscripts with less than reliable fodder might actually serve to worsen LA gang brutality.

    Think about it, give someone with a probable penchant for a violence an automatic rifle, train them in it’s use, give them military tactics, and send them out into the field in tense and often chaotic situations. It’s not only probable but likely that gang members would “benefit” from a few years spent at the front lines, including possibly finding a way to ferret out a little bit of those munitions to their friends and associates back home.

    In fact, last year a Chicago soldier was “jumped in” to a Chicago area gang in, of all places, Germany (returning from Iraq). Unfortunately, the three guys did their work a little too well, and killed the man. It became apparent that this Chicago gang had sent it’s members into military service to, well, get some training.

    Given the idea that we might not have a permanent war to fight, as they all end eventually, what is a former soldier/gang member to do for employment upon return to the States? Maybe put an M16 to use?

    Sidenote: By inferring that the US military might benefit from an influx of hardcore criminals into their ranks, what are you saying of the honest men and women who join the military, that they deserve to have violent felons working alongside them? Or that they are little better than felons?

  11. David, now this is becoming a circular argument tha makes no sense, what is your point? People dont like the use of the term “illegal” (not illegal immigrant) for a reason, and Jason did use the term “illegal” in the headline for a reason.

    If the story was about the loss of this athelete then fine, even if it was about how this little scumbag should be sent to his motherland then fine. But the whole “illegal” throwing that divisive word out in such an ambiguous way that plenty is left to the imagination, and then saying this argument i about semantics is absurd. What exactly was the debate this story supposed to bring up, as well as the use of the word illegal in the headline? Is there anyone here that is pro illegal immigrants joining gangs and killing people? You are killing this debate with your semantics, because people are well aware of what kind of discussion is at hand when the term illegal (without the immigrant) is used, and now you and Jason have to deal with it.

  12. I don’t think the person who killed Shaw was a scum bag initially. I think he didn’t have choices. I think if on his first offense he would have been given some better options other than going home and picking up trash this tragedy could have been averted.

    I’m kind of surprised that the people on this board seem to be unaware of the tradition of the military recruiting juvenile delinquents. The military has a long history of doing this and it was pretty effective. Maybe we don’t have to have the military take care of this, but some kind of mandatory service or apprenticeship.

    I think if you’re not going to college and you’re over 18 you should be forced to do community service in an organized fashion that gets you a job skill up until your 21st birthday. I think mandatory or rather compulsory education should be extended to 21 or 22, LA obviously doesn’t have any jobs, so what’s a 22 year old with no skills going to do.

    I know:

    Do drugs
    Have sex
    Drink some more
    Listen to very loud music
    Have more sex

    and a long the way some people are going to get killed and some kids are going to get born.

    So we can pretend like it’s about morals and people raising people right, but it’s not. It’s about no jobs and lots of time on your hands.


  13. And you guys have got to think about this who would join the military (with the exception of commissioned officer) who had something going on?

    If you’re parents have money you don’t join up. If you are going to college you don’t join, even in the past when people didn’t get drafted you had a bunch of poor and working class kids (many high school drop outs) who had no options and in present day that would be gangmembers.

    You don’t have the elite the cream of the crop joining the army. The people who join aren’t bad people, but it’s not like going to Stanford, heck it’s not even like going to Cal State LA. If you’re breathing and not a complete moron you can be in the army (and in time of war you can be a complete moron.)

    The army pretty wants to know are you willing to die to maybe get a GI Bill and some free housing and some health benefits for your wife and kid, that’s pretty much a win, win for the army even if you are a complete f*ck up. You’re just a piece on the battle field. Low level people in the military, they are pretty much just a barrier for the people who “matter,” so if you work together as a team you live and if you don’t you die, but the US military doesn’t care. You’re simply a wall. Some people in that wall are going to do stupid things, but in the scheme of things do you think the military cares nope they don’t. You’re pretty much just there to slow down a bullet.

    It’s really horrible, if the military cared do you think they would send reservist out on three tours? That’s just criminal. By the way 50% of the people who commit suicide during the war going on right now are reservist.

    That’s just so freakin wrong.

    I’m not saying that people should go to the military, but I’m saying the military would definitely take alot of these kids if they wanted to join.


  14. Aart,

    If I hadn’t read this same conversation about the term “illegal” a million times already, maybe I’d agree. And I’m more than aware that many people don’t like it. However, it is used in mainstream press articles quite commonly, and while it may be offensive to some for what they think it implies, not everyone who sees or uses that word is a bigot. Instead, the pro-undocumented worker crowd seizes on it, calls racism, and doesn’t realize that each time they’re shooting themselves in the foot by not making any progress on the issues at hand.

    A couple days ago, Obama used the term “typical white woman” while referring to his grandmother. Fox News and other anchors are crying foul, and try and use it as evidence that Obama has a hidden radical black agenda. I think we both know its bullshit. I’m a white guy who is well aware that racism comes from all races, but don’t see anything offensive in Obama’s comments. All I see are the same folks who previously tried to paint Obama as a radical Muslim to distract from the issues are now clining to the words “typical white woman.”

    “Typical white woman” or “illegals.” Get the fuck over it and discuss the real issues.

  15. Browne,
    It really, really scares me how much I’ve been agreeing with you lately, but I’m realized surprised by your comment, “I think if you’re not going to college and you’re over 18 you should be forced to do community service…”
    Why not make community or military service mandatory for everyone, and not just those who can’t afford college?
    I’m on the fence about mandatory service on any level, although I do think non-military options, such as community service, should be made available with benefits that match those of the GI Bill.

  16. But David when you make someone not a person by referring to them in an inhumane fashion that’s part of the reason that we have this problem in the US.

    David many of the problems in the United States is that this country up until the 1960s and in reality the 1980s had two systems, one for white people (men to be exact) and then everyone else.

    Immigration policies were set up based on this (do you know up until the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s only certain number of dark skinned people could immigrate legally to the US, that includes Asian, Latino, and African people…) Admissions to school were based on this. Buying property was based on this. Who you could marry was based on this.

    The Bracero program was a program that said Mexicans could come to the US, but could not be citizens, they had to go back to Mexico. No one else who came to work in the US got that raw deal and why do you think that deal was made?

    Calling another person illegal is definitely part of the problem.

    I mean really David you should tell America to get off the issue, not Arrt.


  17. Oh I killed our lovefest David…lol…

    “Why not make community or military service mandatory for everyone, and not just those who can’t afford college?” David

    Because if you’re going to college you’re already busy, possibly add a service component to public universities. You have to take math, you have to take English, you have to pick up trash on the freeway…

    I think the mandatory part should be the gov’t is obligated to continue to give you skills until you are 21, if you can prove you have a skill by:

    a. Passing a college entrance exam and making reasonable progress in college.

    If you can’t write a paragraph or do math, you’re not going to graduate from college so why are playing this game? I really hate that we don’t have vocational education in the states, we know by 9th grade who is going to college and who is definitely not going. I think there should be tests to get into high school and if you’re not academically inclined you get on the skilled labor track, now if later you want to go to college later you can, but lets give people a fair chance. We have a 30% drop out rate and it’s rising…

    b. Having a skilled labor job.
    c. You’re in the military.

    You don’t have to do the mandatory service, but if you’re sitting around in your skivvies watching Jerry, well you’re going to “I care alot” bootcamp.


  18. I guess I could have gone with “L.A. Athlete May Have Been Murdered By An Undocumented immigrant/migrant/alien/worker/resident.”

    How about “LA Athlete’s Killer May Have Been in the Country Illegally?”

    Do you call people that break the speed limit “illegals?” How bout people who drink before they turn 21? People who smoke dope? Obviously not. Your disinterest in acknowledging the loaded nature of your language is disheartening, and the dismissive attitude on display in your response isn’t exactly the best way to foster a positive discourse.

    Also, note that “an illegal” is not in the “Terms used in the United States” that you’ve cited.

    I usually have no problem referring to someone who is in the country illegally as an illegal immigrant any more than referring to someone who is operating a vehicle without a license is an “illegal driver.”

    Except that’s not the terminology being used here. “An illegal” is not the same thing as “an illegal immigrant.”

    Its a shame that whenever issues like these come up, people would rather debate over the terminology than the issues themselves.

    Actually, I’d like to discuss both, because they’re inexorably intertwined.

  19. It seems that some people refuse to understand the power of words. Politicians exploit this ignorance daily to SEEM as if they are stating one thing so as to try and not be caught stating something definitive. Entire industries are built on the nuance of language. And yet some folk state that the loose use of words is no big deal. And on the street, anyone foolish enough to say “boy” to a black man will learn a new connotation by way of some knuckles despite the seeming innocence of such a word. Capiche?

    Others seem to forget recent history, especially post-war times of Los Angeles when rogue groups of U.S. military boys took it upon themselves to seek out and attack latinos, prompting the latter to form up in defensive groups to avoid being singled out. (Oddly enough, this particular facet of southern California history was far better taken up in the satiric film “1941” than the ridiculously serious and no less forgettable movie “American Me.” And by labeling the former as “film” and the latter “movie” I hope I have made clear my point how the specfic use of a word conveys my perspective despite the dreadfully loose use of words when specific terms are required.) Now gangs are having a strange sort of revenge as they have been intentionally joining up to exploit the easy acquisition of sturdy firearms. (Pardon me for not recalling the source of this information, but it was and continues to be an ongoing problem.) Forcing errant american boys into the military usta work. In other countries—say, Russia, whose navy is unimaginably dreadful (I have a former design client who barely survived that unspeakable horror; he now resides in new Jersey and proclaims it a beautiful place!)—such a measure works. In the U.S., where the military is beholden to the PC crap that lets other countries laugh at America, putting non-white americans into the military as a punitive measure is failing as well as a futile attempt.

    Finally, I have to state that anyone who employs Wikipedia as support may as well use an off-the-cuff remark by an elder sibling. Anyone can state anything on Wikipedia, whereas, say, the OED is a recognised authority for the express reason that not just anyone can have their half-assed sentiment put in print.

    That said, lemme state that I am not in favour of gangs—be they 18th Street (with whom I have had no conflict despite having dealt with them many years ago as I lived in one of their tightly controlled nabes) nor the LAPD (who attempted to control the same area of the Pico-Union/Rampart area, and who were jerks in every case). Nevertheless, I have as much patience with that gang crap as I do insistent ignorance and adamant idiocy.

  20. David, I stated I’m not kosher with the term illegal and cited why after you bugged me about it. Then you continued to troll my comments with illogical semantic arguments that indeed strayed away from the initial comments, you need to get the fuck over it. A lot of people dont like the use of the term and consider it typical inflammatory passive aggressive “whiteboy too afraid to be an overt racist” nonsense, and will let it be known that it is unacceptable. So deal with it

    And what the fuck is the point of this article then David? Where is any info on the actual crime or life of the victim? How is one to construe anything from this title and article when little is posted beyond the vato being illegal? it looks like the author has little beyond anecdotal evidence that he feels helps prove him right in a previous subject, and thus created this inflamatory topic for personal hubris.

    You want me to talk about undocumented people causing crime? A recent report by the state (or LA Times) noted that illegals cause far less crime numerically and per capita than any other demographic. Part of the stigma of being undocumented and having to exist in the shadows (not by choice since he came here as a baby) is an extreme comprimise in ones faith of our public institutions and authority in general. Couple that with living in a poor high crime area where gangbanging and extreme miserable dysfunction is prevalent and you got a recipe for criminal (not to excuse homeboy or say that all illegal folks get into crime).

    It is a sad state in our country’s responsibility when we ship away problems we helped create. Whether homeboy was from southern Mexico, Guatamala, El Salvador or most other CA countries, he probably came here as a kid to escape atrocities and extreme poverty that had a good amount to do with US foreign policies in Latin America and the whole “fuck them in the name of our comfort” ideology prevalent since the Monroe Doctrine.

    And I still dont like the term illegal, so get the fuck over it.

  21. ^What is there to have an opinion on? It seems the writer of this post just wants to prove somehow he’s right.

  22. I must agree, calling someone “an illegal” is just not too bright. You can defend it with Wikipedia posts (hilarious), you can break out the dictionary and you can tell me that you’re not a bigot or racist, but all I know is that every time I hear someone refer to an immigrant as “an illegal” or “those illegals,” say so with a detectable contempt and even a dash of hatred. That’s all I’m sayin.’

  23. The Puerto Rican side of my family must be very, very ashamed. I should be banned from ever again posting to a blog of this journalistic magnitude. From now on, I will refer to illegal immigrants as follows:

    “Persons Who Have Entered the United States Not in Accordance with Federal Law who Wish to be Employed, Schooled, and Afforded the Same Rights as Natural Born Citizens and Citizens of Legal Immigration Without Paying Taxes.”

    Is that better?

    Thank you to those for hijacking a post to discuss the semantics of its headline. How scholarly of you.

  24. If I was in your family I would spit at your direction (or just not invite you to my parties lulz). anywho, I’m starting to think this is all one big stunt being put out by some of the bloggers here (e.g. Markland) to get people to comment.

    Judge people by their actions, and not by their color/race/legality.

    also, don’t get in the way of change, cause it will destroy you.

  25. I suppose people could have posted comments in a more scolarly manner if there was any meat to this post to begin with. It felt like a sort of “in your face,” retaliatory post to prove that yes, one murder suspect in Los Angeles is an undocumented immigrant. And…?

    If the point of the post is to reinforce your position that undocumented immigrants or “illegals” should be deported or drafted upon conviction or murder, I would contend that this does not address the root causes of gang formation and violence at all, and would be a waste of our resources.

    I hope that’s at least slightly more scholarly.

    And by the way, I’m all for brevity. But when you have the privelege of posting stories to a public space, I just think it makes sense to think about terms that might offend or dismiss people, especially in the title! You have EVERY right to use whatever terms you wish, it’s still a free country (just barely thanks to Bushies). But just don’t be suprised when you get flak for it. Somehow I doubt you’d call an undocumented immigrant an “illegal” to their face. At least I hope not. But I could be wrong.

  26. i, for one, thank you for being so considerate as to shorten your headline by one word. after all, it was a long word, and it would have been quite a pain to read.

    not only that, but your snappy responses also saved me from having to read even more lengthy replies to your initial post. i, too, scoff at those trying to have an intelligent discussion. don’t they know that there’s no place for intelligence in a post by jason burns?

  27. if there was any meat to this post to begin with.

    Thank you for your editorial opinion on the subject matter and content of the post in question. You commented on it, which means I did my job.

    this does not address the root causes of gang formation and violence at all, and would be a waste of our resources.

    If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. Saying something cannot be done without providing a viable alternative is a bigger waste of our resources. Instead of bitching about the use of a word, you could provide some of your own solutions to the bigger problem, which was the original topic of the post.

  28. i’m not sure it takes resources to simply say that something cannot be done…

    you suggest deportation for any illegal immigrants involved in any gang-related activities, but do you really think that it will do anything to decrease gang violence? if this pedro espinoza made it into the country the first time then what’s to stop him from coming back again? how would you propose that we handle repeat offenders? is that where the military draft comes in? i don’t know about you, but i don’t think any illegal immigrant forced into the military for taking part in gang-related violence would be super into fighting for a country in which they have no rights. but as long as it gets them out of los angeles, right?

    as uncompressed was saying, we need ideas that work to stop gang violence before it starts, otherwise it will become a constant cycle and a huge drain on resources. we may not have the perfect solution to suggest right now, but certainly you realize that we shouldn’t just jump into bed with the first idea put on the table.

  29. No one is suggesting that we run with the first idea on the table. I definitely do not. I do not have all the answers. In fact, I usually only have half the questions. But, I think they need to be asked.

    As far as a military draft is concerned, I know it may not be the best or only solution. But, could it hurt to try? I have known several people that have come out of the military a completely transformed individual. Boot camp does that to you. Ask anyone you know that has gone through it. Now ask anyone you know that has gone to prison, and what they learned from that experience. I’ll bet you get two completely different answers.

    Again, I am asking for other suggestions here. I am INVITING YOU to post them. If you have an alternative solution, let’s hear it.

  30. Jason Burns,

    I didn’t realize that “your job” was to get people to comment. But now that you said that, this is starting to make a lot more sense.

    Instead of bitching about the use of a word, you could provide some of your own solutions to the bigger problem, which was the original topic of the post.

    I second everything benjamin said, and I’ll even throw in some suggestions to solve “the bigger problem,” which you assert was the original topic of the post.

    1. Give youth other options. People joing gangs because they don’t have other outlets available to them. If kids are joining gangs, then it is our (the grown-ups) failure to reach out to them sufficiently.

    2. Improve funding and general conditions in our public schools. This needs to be priority number 1 and it sickens me that it continues to be relegated to the bottom of the list.

    3. Rebuild our communities. This is kind of vague, but what I mean is more interaction and less “let’s ship people away” attitude. More police connecting with neighborhoods, more neighbors connecting to neighbors. More communication, less anger and lack of understanding.

    Like the “war on drugs” (which is one of the worst failures ever imposed on American society), I don’t beleive the focus should be on hardline enforcement, but in finding the root of the problem, and attacking it. Targeting gang members whether they be undocumented immigrants or citizens and shipping them away to prison or their country of origin, will only create a vacuum that will be filled by another gang member.

    That doesn’t mean we stop cracking down on gangs directly, it means that that is one part (and not the main part) of solving the problem.

  31. Jason,

    Do not imply you are a journalist. You are not a journalist, not even remotely. And stop whining, fer chrissakes. Grow a backbone, and put a brain atop it. After all, your kvetching about a controversial comment is not done in person, where you would have to deal with people face-to-face.

    If you cannot stand others’ equally or even stronger remarks via this relatively anonymous medium, then perhaps you should take up coloring in books and leave the news and writing to journalists and writers.

  32. well of course you’ll get two completely different answers, i don’t think anyone is going to disagree with that. i have no doubt that military service or boot camp can transform an individual, but let’s say that we’re talking about an illegal immigrant in this situation.

    do you think that this forced military draft should come with a side of citizenship? if not, how do you think an illegal immigrant would react to spending however many years in the military and then getting out to discover s/he’s got no rights in the very country that s/he was defending? i don’t know about you, but i wouldn’t be pleased. they’d just end up back in the same situation again.


    Instead of bitching about the use of a word, you could provide some of your own solutions to the bigger problem, which was the original topic of the post.

    that was the original topic of your previous post on LA gangs, this post was more of an “i told you so” topic. i get that controversial statements = comments, but if you want discussion on anything other than said statements you’re going to have to do a little more work (and not just in the comments after the original post) i assure you that people here can read multiple paragraphs just as they can read long headline titles.

  33. do you think that this forced military draft should come with a side of citizenship?

    My original suggestion was that any act of gang-related violence committed by an illegal immigrant should result in immediate deportation. Acts committed by legal citizens would result in military draft.

    There was a news item recently, if I’m not mistaken, on soldiers who are not yet citizens. In my opinion, any man or woman that is willing to serve for this country should automatically be given legal status.

  34. to be fair, you didn’t clarify that in your original “gangs of los angeles” post, from which i quote:

    Any gang-related first offense should be prosecuted by military draft or outright deportation.

    perhaps i missed something in the comments, though.

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