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President Trump Attends Gang Violence Roundtable Discussion in Bethpage

Trump praised the efforts of law enforcement for turning the tide on the violence perpetrated by members of MS-13 and other so-called illegal immigrant gangs.

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President Donald Trump speaking with Congressman Lee Zeldin at a roundtable summit on gang violence in Bethpage.

Photo by: White House via YouTube

Bethpage, NY - May 24, 2018 - President Donald J. Trump continued his stance of tough talk against the reviled criminal organization MS-13 at a roundtable summit on gang violence held on May 23 at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage. Invited to speak by Congressman Peter King (R, NY-1), Trump – as a member of a panel populated by local politicians, law enforcement, and victims of MS-13 violence – was welcomed with open arms by the Seaford-based U.S. Representative.
“Mr. President, it's an honor to have you back here on Long Island, and you more than anyone else in this country are highlighting the evil of MS-13,” Rep. King said. “I want to congratulate you and thank you for leading this effort against these horrible, vicious, rotten murderers. You are really leading the charge and mobilizing all of the efforts of the federal government behind this.”
Trump stood behind previous comments where he branded members of the South American gang as “animals” for their violent acts, a comment that drew the ire of some Democrats but the support of many conservatives and members of law enforcement. 
“I called them animals the other day, and I was met with rebuke. People were like, ‘they’re not animals, they’re people!’ No, they're not people…they are animals, and we have to be very, very tough on them,” he said. “MS-13 live by the motto ‘kill, rape, and control.’ That's actually their motto. Last month MS-13 reportedly called for their members here on Long Island to kill a cop for the sake of making a statement. Police officers told me that recently four young men were brutally killed by MS-13 in Suffolk County. In Maryland, MS-13 members are accused of stabbing a man 100 times, decapitating him, and ripping out his heart. They’re animals.”

President Donald Trump with Congressman Peter King. Photo Credit: White House via YouTube
During his opening remarks, Trump stated that MS-13 had actually slain a Nassau County police officer; however, this was an error, as while the gang had issued such a threat, they have not yet actually followed through on it.
Members of the roundtable discussion included Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice Rod Rosenstein; Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder; Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart; and Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1), as well as the parents of teenaged victims slain by MS-13 members in Suffolk County. In addition, attendees in the audience included Nassau County Executive Laura Curren.
Trump, who had previously spoken on gang violence at a law enforcement-only event in Brentwood in July of 2017, decried what he called “loopholes” in the immigration policy of the United States that he said are responsible for allowing a criminal element to enter the country and take hold in communities across the nation.
“We have the biggest loopholes of any country in the world, we have the worst immigration laws of any country anywhere in the world. The exploited loopholes allow people enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors. They look so innocent, but they're not innocent,” he said. “Crippling loopholes in our laws have allowed MS-13 gang members and other criminals to infiltrate our communities and Democrats in Congress refuse to close these loopholes. Democrats have to abandon their resistance to border security so that we can support law enforcement and save innocent lives.”

Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice Rod Rosenstein. Photo Credit: White House via YouTube
Trump praised the efforts of law enforcement, including local police as well as the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), for turning the tide on the violence perpetrated by members of MS-13 and other so-called illegal immigrant gangs.
“ICE came in and they’re taking them out by the thousands,” he said. “Now if we had laws that were proper, they wouldn't be coming back…the number of illegal immigrants is way down, but it's still far too much.”
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stated that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made violent crime and illegal immigration the top priority for the Department of Justice, and they have gained serious ground in combating it, despite what he said were immigration laws curtailing their efforts.
“We’ve made tremendous progress working in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, as well as other Federal partners and state and local law enforcement,” he said. “Years ago we did a tremendous job of dismantling MS-13, but we found in recent years that there was a resurgence in MS-13 activity mostly fueled by illegal immigration…there are several loopholes in federal law that facilitate and create a particular problem for Homeland Security with regard to unaccompanied children who enter the United States illegally. As a consequence of these loopholes, we’re letting in people who are criminals and people who are vulnerable to gang recruitment. We need to have these loopholes closed so that the job of law enforcement will be easier.”

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. Photo Credit: White House via YouTube
Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder detailed the progress his officers have made in taking the fight to MS-13, and requested that his department have more access to the intelligence that Federal government agents gather in order to better prepare for incoming threats.
“We have about 500 identified MS-13 members in Nassau County, and in 2017, we had 6 kids in Nassau County who were murdered by MS-13... shot in the back of the head, butchered with machetes, and buried in shallow graves,” he said. “Nine people were arrested last year in connection with these murders, and seven of these nine were undocumented. We have 1.3 million people in Nassau County, and 17 percent of them are Hispanic…these are good, hardworking people in those communities. 90 percent of the crime is done by 10 percent of the population, and MS-13 is making up a good percentage of that 10 percent. We have a great relationship with Homeland Security, and we would and we would like to see a little more in terms of intelligence sharing so we can have the information we need to attack MS-13.”
Many members of law enforcement relayed tales to Trump on the cooperation they are receiving from countries where many of the illegal immigrants entering the United States are coming from; however, the President discounted this cooperation as not genuine, and noted that he is weighing the possibility of cutting off aid to nations that he said are not doing their part in curbing the flow of violent felons to our shores.
“Many of these countries we give tremendous amounts of aid to, tens of millions of dollars...we're working on a plan to deduct a lot of the aid, because they're not trying to stop this. They encourage it, because they don't want the people that we’re getting in that country,” Trump said. “So we're going to work out something so that every time someone comes in from a certain country, we're going to deduct a rather large amount of money from what we give them in aid...if we give them aid at all.”

President Donald J. Trump (center) at a roundtable summit on gang violence held on May 23 in Bethpage. Photo Credit: White House via YouTube
Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart also reported in the success that her department has had in taking the fight to MS-13, with the agency’s intense efforts driven by a series of brutal murders of local young people at the hands of the bloodthirsty gang.
“These killings in our communities sparked a commitment by the Suffolk County Police to form a gang eradication strategy to protect our residents and get these MS-13 members off our streets,” she said. “As a result, the Suffolk County Police Department has worked extensively with all of our law enforcement partners to implement a multi-pronged strategy , and this approach has resulted in 355 arrests of 235 MS-13 gang members. There has not been an MS-13 murder in Suffolk County since April of 2017.”
The parents of teens Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens, tragically murdered in September of 2016 by member of MS-13, spoke to Trump about their harrowing experience and extended their appreciation for the President’s focus on taking the infamous gang down.
Due to Trump’s presidency being seen as controversial and divisive by many, protests were held at a “freedom of speech” zone located near the Morrelly Center, with individuals representing civic, political, immigrant, and other organizations that have taken issue with Trump’s stances on many hot-button topics.