Immigrants' Supporters Reject Trump Visit
BRENTWOOD, N.Y. – Community leaders gathered on Long Island on Thursday to issue a unity statement in opposition to what they call President Donald Trump's "criminalizing" immigrants.
The president is visiting Long Island Friday to discuss measures to eliminate MS-13, a violent gang based in Los Angeles and El Salvador, linked to several murders in the area.
The victims were all young Latinos and Latinas.
But Maryann Slutsky, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group Long Island Wins, says in the name of fighting gang violence, Trump is enforcing policies that target all immigrants.
"We won't let him use the tragedies of our community that have suffered at the hands of gang violence to be the face of immigrants," she states.
The president's visit is in response to last week's announcement that 15 members of MS-13 had been arrested in connection to five murders on Long Island.
But Slutsky maintains Trump is exploiting gang violence for political gain. She says his emphasis on law enforcement and deportations has paralyzed the entire community.
"They've instilled so much fear in the community,” she stresses. “And not just the immigrants. Children are terrified. They're terrified of the gangs, they're terrified of the police, they're terrified of ICE."
Slutsky adds that communities such as Brentwood and Central Islip, home to many immigrant families, have suffered from years of neglect by government at all levels, and says what they really need are more resources, beginning with the schools.
"That is really where repairing the community has to start, and preventing the youth in the community from falling prey to gang violence," she states.
Slutsky says where police have failed, education, job training and opportunity can succeed in helping communities become safe and secure for everyone.