President Donald Trump’s criticism Wednesday of “radical Democrats” wanting to get rid of ICE on Long Island “because they don’t want them to do anything to disturb MS-13” didn’t come out of the blue.
Just hours before, Nassau PBA President James McDermott had appeared on Fox and Friends to blast Democratic County Executive Laura Curran for planning to move U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents off county jail property in East Meadow.
Fox and Friends is one of Trump’s favorite source of news, pundits agree.
McDermott said Curran “changed course” and agreed to move ICE next door to the grounds of the Nassau University Medical Center after the PBA led a rally of law enforcement officers protesting the plan that, McDermott said, was to move ICE agents out of Nassau altogether and into Suffolk.
But Curran, who appeared on The Brian Lehrer on WNYC Public Radio Wednesday, said she always had planned to find a better location — although she didn’t mention that when she ordered ICE agents to leave their trailer at the corrections center by Jan. 31.
“The ICE trailer was right outside the visitors entrance to the jail. That had a real chilling effect on our immigrant community,” she told Lehrer.
McDermott said on Fox News that by removing ICE from the jail, Curran "was more concerned about one group, more concerned about criminals than the taxpayers in Nassau County.”
Trump subsequently said at a White House news conference, “I see on Long Island they don’t want ICE, the radical Democrats don’t want ICE there because they’re too good, they’re doing too good of a job. And I always talk about Long Island, that’s one of the real hotbeds for the MS-13 gangs and I’ve just seen this morning where the really radical Democrats don’t want them there because they don’t want them to do anything to disturb MS-13.”
The Trump comments led Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs to return fire.
“I think it's rich that Donald Trump would choose to attack Laura Curran for moving ICE headquarters across the street from the jail when in fact ICE headquarters should be moved to the Bedminster golf course [a Trump golf course in New Jersey] or Mar-a-largo [Trump’s club in Palm Beach] because I think you will find more undocumented workers there than in Nassau County,” Jacobs said.
“To insinuate that Democrats are any less committed to fighting Ms13 is just plain foul,” said Jacobs.
Trump’s comments also prompted almost instantaneous fundraising emails from Curran’s campaign committee.
“You won’t believe what just happened," the fundraising pitch went. "Donald Trump, in the midst of the longest government shutdown in our history, just used his bully pulpit to come after me and my administration — simply for doing our jobs. That will not stand and we will not back down.”
The campaign asked for $50, $100 or $250 to help “fight for what’s right.”
That in turn prompted some Curran critics to suggest the whole thing was a setup to raise money. “I hope not,” McDermott said.
Jacobs responded, “When you’re given a winning lottery ticket, my advice always is to just cash it in.”