President Donald Trump met with law enforcement and lawmakers from Long Island on Tuesday to hear ideas on how to combat the criminal gang MS-13. According to police, 17 people on Long Island have been killed by MS-13 in the last 18 months.
Immigration officials showed photos of slain MS-13 victims and told stories of kids with machetes arrested in shopping center parking lots. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen complained of being unable to deport undocumented immigrants accused of being in a gang.
“Once we catch them and detain them, I cannot remove them by virtue of them being in a gang,” said Nielsen.
Trump promised to close what he calls immigration “loopholes” that allowed the gang into the country. “And by the way these things are unique to our country. No other country has these. This is unique to our country. And it’s gonna change,” Trump said.
After arrest, people often spend years in immigration detention before seeing a judge. Immigration advocates say President Trump is using MS-13 to scare Americans into supporting harsher immigration laws. Homeland Security says there about 10,000 MS-13 members in the U.S., less than 1 percent of estimated gang membership in the country.