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Trump Was On Long Island Last Week to Exploit Tragedy Yet Again


Donald Trump came to Long Island on Wednesday for the fourth time in two years. As with each of his previous visits, his goal was to continue stirring up support for his tottering presidency by denouncing immigrants as criminals and “animals.” His visit was met with denunciations from community and civil rights groups, and welcome from Congressional Representatives Peter King and Lee Zeldin.

The New York Immigration Coalition, Nassau Civil Liberties Union, CARECEN, Empire Justice, and Make the Road mobilized their members and allies for two days of protest against the president’s exploitation of a string of horrendous killings by the street gang MS-13.

More than fifteen organizations denounced the president’s vile anti-immigrant rhetoric at a press conference on the steps of the Nassau County Legislature on Tuesday. A hundred protesters gathered outside the location of Trump’s “forum” in Bethpage to call for him to stop stirring up divisions.

Former Nassau County Executive, and current Congressman, Tom Suozzi said that Trump is using the MS-13 tragedy to undermine Long Island’s immigrant community. According to an op-ed he published in The Wall Street Journal, the man who was once responsible for policing in Nassau wrote:

The key to community policing is a healthy, respectful and productive relationship between police officers and the community they are sworn to serve and protect. Mr. Trump’s approach—his sweeping rhetoric that lumps all immigrants together, his proposal to curtail legal immigration drastically, his failure to support a bipartisan permanent fix for beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, his elimination of temporary protection status safeguards—amounts to a war on immigrants, a war far beyond MS-13, which has a chilling effect on police-community relations with Latinos in America.

Police must be able to work with law-abiding people to identify MS-13 members and movements in their communities. While overseeing police departments as Glen Cove mayor and Nassau County executive, I saw community-policing stop MS-13 in its tracks. During my time as executive, Nassau was the safest county of more than 500,000 inhabitants in the U.S.

Community policing and cooperative relations between immigrants and law enforcement are the key to rolling-back the recent growth of MS-13. The fear spread by Donald Trump forces immigrants into the shadows, where Mara Salvatrucha is free to do its deadly business. 

Pat Young works at CARECEN on Long Island.


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