WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is expected to return to Long Island next Wednesday for a forum on the MS-13 gang, Rep. Peter King said Thursday.
King (R-Seaford) said he has been working with the White House on the event, which is tentatively scheduled to be held at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage.
“I’m always pressing him to do more about the gangs and MS-13 on Long Island, and it’s obviously an issue that’s important to him, and a priority for the president,” King said.
King said additional details about the forum — including a list of participants — would be forthcoming from the White House, noting that the event was still in its planning stages.
White House Director of Media Affairs Helen Aguirre Ferre confirmed on Friday morning that “President Trump will be on Long Island on Wednesday...for a forum that focuses on MS-13.” The forum would coincide with a campaign fundraiser Trump is scheduled to headline in Manhattan Wednesday evening, according to a campaign email sent to his supporters last week.
Trump has often turned to Long Island to illustrate the gang’s deadly reach. He has argued that the gang — whose members largely hail from Central America — highlights the need for stricter immigration enforcement laws.
During his State of the Union address in January, Trump invited the parents of slain Brentwood teens Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas to attend the speech before a joint session of Congress. In a nationally televised speech, Trump pointed to the pair of grieving parents to condemn the actions of the MS-13 members charged with killing the teens, promising that he would “make sure that other families never have to endure this pain.”
The president also visited Brentwood last July, appearing alongside Long Island law enforcement officers at Suffolk County Community College, where he vowed to put an end to the gang.
“We can eliminate MS-13 and root out the criminal cartels from our country,” Trump said. He called on Congress to support his immigration enforcement agenda, including funding for a wall along the U.S. and Mexico border.
On Thursday, the president defended describing immigrants belonging to MS-13 as “animals” a day earlier, when he spoke during a panel on California’s immigration laws. Trump’s initial remarks were met with widespread condemnation on social media by Democratic lawmakers and activists who believed he was describing all immigrants crossing the southern border. The president, asked by reporters to clarify his remarks on Thursday, insisted he was solely referring to the MS-13 members.
“When the MS-13 comes in, when the other gang members come into our country, I refer to them as ‘animals,’ and guess what? I always will,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
With Scott Eidler