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To fight MS-13, don’t admit unaccompanied minors across border

Officials testify June 20 at a congressional hearing

Officials testify June 20 at a congressional hearing in Central Islip on the deadly MS-13 gang. From left, Jose Victor Bonilla- Melendez of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, Suffolk Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, Nassau County acting Police Comissioner Thomas Krumpter. Credit: James Carbone

Flow of minors across Southern border fuels MS-13

Some testimony at the recent congressional hearing on the MS-13 gang centered on improving conditions for unaccompanied minors who are relocated to Long Island [“Keeping MS-13 at bay on LI,” News, June 21]. But the real question should be why this program exists in the first place. It should be eliminated.

MS-13 grew in Suffolk County for two reasons. The Bellone administration cut off police cooperation with federal investigators, reducing the ability to nab gang kingpins. And the Obama administration provided amnesty for younger immigrants who are here illegally, sending a message to the rest of the hemisphere that if a young person made it to America, he or she would be allowed to stay. Approximately 8,000 such minors were relocated to Long Island after they crossed the Southern border.

When first passing the Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act, Congress specifically had in mind children who were being transported in the sex trade. Officials have to start talking about the root of this problem, which is the egregious twisting of the original intent of this act. The message must be sent that unaccompanied minors seeking to cross the border illegally will not be able to do so.

It makes for a nice sound bite to say that the cure to gang violence is more money for social programs, but the first step to curbing the growth of MS-13 is to stop sending them reinforcements.

Steve Levy, Bayport

Editor’s note: The writer was Suffolk County executive from 2004 to 2011.