President Trump stood with police officers Friday in Long Island, New York, and demanded Congress fund the administration’s fight against illegal immigration that fuels the brutally violent MS-13 street gang.
He visited Suffolk County on Long Island that has been stained by gang killings to call for more U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, immigration judges, penalties for sanctuary cities and a border wall.
“Together we are going to restore safety to our streets and peace to our communities, and we are going to destroy the vile criminal cartel MS-13 and many other gangs,” Mr. Trump said, surrounded by police and sheriff officers.
“MS-13 is particularly violent. They don’t like shooting people because it is too quick. It’s too fast,” he said. “They like to knife ‘em and cut ‘em and let ‘em die slowly because it is more painful and they enjoy watching that much more. These are animals.”
The president’s visit highlighted the national gang crisis that has been particularly evident in Long Island, where the MS-13 gang from Central America has been implicated in nearly 20 killings over the past 18 months.
The spate of violence in Central Islip and Brentwood communities grabbed the nation’s attention in April when four young men were discovered beaten and stabbed to death in a park.
In September, the bodies of two 16-year-old girls who were slaughtered in a similar fashion were found in another nearby park.
“We cannot accept this violence one day more,” he said.
The Trump administration has made MS-13 the focus of its crackdown on illegal immigration.
The gang has flourished amid the massive influx of illegal immigrants from Central America and lax interior enforcement of immigration laws during the Obama administration.
“For many years they exploited America’s weak borders and lax immigration enforcement to bring drugs and violence to cities and towns all across America,” said Mr. Trump. “They are there right now because of weak political leadership, weak leadership, weak policing and in many cases because the police were not allowed to do their job.”
The president’s call to action included a push to hire 10,000 more ICE officers, whose ranks currently are about 5,000.
He said the promise to build a wall on the soother border, which was a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, was key.
The House approved $1.6 billion Thursday to fund the first installment of the border wall, but the funds must survive solid Democratic opposition in the long appropriations process.
The president also wants more immigration judges and changes to laws to speed up the deportation process, as well as tough penalties for sanctuary cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.
Noting the administration’s early success in boosting deportations, Mr. Trump said they still needed to do much more.
“We need them quickly if we are going to distantly these deadly networks,” he said.
The president vowed to support law enforcement officers on the front line of the effort.
“You are saving American lives every day and, believe me, we have your backs,” he said. “We have your backs 100 percent. Not like the old days. Not like the old days.”
Mr. Trump touted the administration’s policy for giving military equipment to police, saying they put it to good use.
“The laws are so horrendously stacked against us because for years and years they have been made to protect the criminals,” he said. “We’re changing those laws.”