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Rep. Zeldin Statement After Traveling with President Trump to Suffolk County to Address Urgent Need to Eradicate Gang Violence

July 28, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC - Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) released the following statement today after President Donald Trump visited Long Island to discuss the effort to eradicate the MS-13 gang in Suffolk County and nationwide. Congressman Zeldin traveled with the President on Air Force One from Washington, DC, to Suffolk County, New York.

“It was an honor to travel with President Trump to our home in Suffolk County to discuss efforts to eradicate MS-13. It has been very welcome relief witnessing the President and his administration take such an active role to address this urgent threat. What has happened on our island shows how local communities can be so deeply impacted by gangs such as MS-13. 

MS-13 and other Central American gangs have wreaked havoc in our neighborhoods from coast to coast, and the problem will only continue to worsen unless strong action is taken against them. The rise in gang violence is one of the greatest challenges we face as a nation, and we must do everything in our power to swiftly bring this to an end. Here, in Suffolk County, this mission is all the more personal. Only a few months ago, four young lives were sadly and brutally cut short by MS-13, two of whom, Justin Llivicura, of East Patchogue, and Jorge Tigre, of Bellport, were residents of the First Congressional District. This tragic occurrence is in addition to many of the other horrible crimes committed by this group, which has included human trafficking, gang rape, drug trafficking, and other deeply disturbing incidents. The horror of their brutality knows no bounds. 

This ruthless gang is a scourge upon our community which has taken far too many innocent lives. Every one of us, at all levels of government, has a role to play in combating this threat, and I am proud to do my part as a Member of Congress. As the President noted during his speech today, a key aspect of this is for Congress to advance proposals which strengthen our immigration system and especially our borders. We must also continue to strongly support our local law enforcement and give them every necessary tool to effectively combat gang violence. It is also imperative that we participate in international efforts to combat various related criminal activity and engage in local efforts to educate and rehabilitate as necessary and appropriate.

While some chose to line the streets and protest the President’s arrival with claims that his motives for coming were to ‘attack immigrants’, his words today proved that this was simply not true. This administration has taken a hard stance against gang activity, and it is imperative that we come together as one community in rejection of this violence which has claimed too many innocent lives.  

This President’s trip to our home was a sign that we have allies in this fight against evil; however, this is only the beginning. We must send a clear indication that gangs like MS-13 have no place here, and that we will never tolerate gang violence in our communities. It is our obligation to make eradicating this criminal organization a top priority.”