There’s a lot that can go wrong with getting a tattoo. One moment you’re loving it, the next your mom is beating you with a flyswatter and telling you that you’ve ruined your life. And while there’s always a risk with getting a tattoo, one group of people, immigrants, are finding out their tattoos could end up getting them in serious trouble and potentially deported.
One San Francisco area tattoo removal facility has reportedly seen an upswing in the number of immigrants and DACA recipients looking for tattoo removals.
These individuals fear that ICE may classify them as gang members or gang affiliated, which would make them targets for potential deportation. As Nora Ruiz of the San Pablo Economic Development Corporation, which offers tattoo removal, told CBS, immigrants with tattoos feel like “moving targets” and that they “fear that they might be seen as a certain type of person or judged in anyway, people want to get their tattoos removed.”
We’ve already seen at least one immigrant stripped of his DREAMer status because of his tattoos.
It makes sense that immigrants with former gang affiliations would want to formally sever ties with their past, but what about those who just happen to be immigrants with tattoos?
Last month, 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina was detained by ICE and had his DACA status revoked. According to The Guardian, he had a tattoo, “La Paz BCS,” written in Spanish on his forearm, which officers took as a sign of gang affiliation. Medina had no prior record and was in good standing with his DACA status. When asked by authorities about his tattoo, The Guardian reported, Medina said he “used to hang out with the Sureños in California” but “fled California to escape from the gangs.” An attorney for Medina says the tattoo actually stands for La Paz, Baja California Sur, the city where Ramirez Medina was born.
Deportation aside, having a tattoo can be an unfortunate connection to a past you’d rather forget.
Whether you have a former lover’s name tattooed on your body or a gang tattoo covering your face, there are clinics that provide services for tattoo removal. Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles has given many former gang members a second chance on life they might not otherwise have. Be sure to check out the services they provide if you’re are interested in having tattoos removed.