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Tattoo removal business surges fearing ICE deportation over gang links

March 23, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Tattoo removal business surges fearing ICE deportation over gang links

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The anxiety of being deported has spread to tattoo shops, which have seen an increase in requests for tattoo removal since more stringent immigration protocols have implemented by the Trump administration.

A tattoo removal business in San Francisco has doubled the number of people since Trump’s victory, CBS Local reported.

“A lot of people do not want to be a moving target or seen as a target,” Nora Ruiz, of the San Pablo Economic Development Corporation, said. “For fear that they might be seen as a certain type of person or judged in any way, they want to get their tattoos removed.”

Tattoos are extensively used among gangs from Central America. MS 13 is a figure of the Mara Salvatrucha group from El Salvador. The ink can appear anywhere on the body but are most often in highly visible places like the hands, neck, or face,

“La Eme,” or M, is the figure of the Mexican Mafia, which is considered one of the most brutal prison gangs in the U.S.

Tattoo-related concerns were heightened after a Mexican immigrant, who was protected by President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, was arrested last month outside of his residence in Seattle for his purported gang links. Daniel Ramirez, who is still in custody, had a forearm tattoo.

However, Ramirez’s lawyers assert the assumed gang tattoo pays homage to the town of La Paz in Baja California Sur state in Mexico, where he is originally from.

In an Op-Ed for the Washington Post, Ramirez said Immigration and Customs Enforcement knows he is not affiliated with any gangs because he gave all of his personal information and fingerprints to the government to qualify for DACA.

“Agents said I was a gang member and that a tattoo means I’m in a gang,” he said. “Agents interrogated me and insisted I was a gang member because I’m from the Central Valley. They are all gang members, they told me. It didn’t matter how many times I told them that I was not.”

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