President Donald Trump hasn't visited the five boroughs since December 2nd (when he attended, no joke, a "Trump Victory Committee breakfast"), but he's expected to make his first 2018 visit to the New York area this week.
A representative of Republican Congressman Peter King told the NY Post Trump will visit Long Island on Wednesday to speak at an immigration event that will focus on an "MS-13 forum discussion." For a taste of what to expect, here's a press release the White House issued today about the "violent animals of MS-13," which refers to the gang members as animals eight times.
MS-13 “animals” has gone from a presidential utterance to White House doctrine. This WH press release on “what you need to know about the violent animals of MS-13” calls them animals 8 times. pic.twitter.com/ZAfOlYjaDB
— Todd Zwillich (@toddzwillich) May 21, 2018
Trump will speak at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage Wednesday. The office of Rep. Tom Suozzi, Bethpage's Democrat representative, told the Post he had gotten no heads up or invite to the event yet.
According to the NY Times, at least 17 murders on Long Island were attributed to MS-13 in the last two years. Multiple members were arrested in the deaths of four teenagers in 2017, and two girls Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens were killed by gang members in 2016. That led to Trump inviting the girls' family members to his State Of The Union address at the start of the year, in which he targeted the gang. He said in that speech that many of its members "took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors."
MS-13 experts have argued that the group is "more of a social organization than a criminal enterprise." David C. Pyrooz, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder, told PolitiFact that while there is no doubt that MS-13 has engaged in serious and heinous forms of violence, "the emphasis on immigrants as the source of the gang problem in the United States is misguided...[MS-13 is] the perfect boogeyman, owing to their ethnicity, transnationality, and extreme violence. The problem is that the constant callouts from the highest office in the land are giving MS-13 the notoriety that they could never achieve on their own accord."
Trump previously spoke at Suffolk County Community College in LI last July, in one of his six visits to NYC in 2017, and railed against the MS-13 gang then as well. Although Trump used the "animal" rhetoric in his speech last year, it provoked an outcry last week after he made remarks during a meeting with California officials about immigration.
"We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we're stopping a lot of them — but we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people. These are animals," Trump said. Trump was widely criticized for calling immigrants "animals," but the White House later doubled down and said he was only referring to MS-13 members. It's a testament to how incomprehensible Trump's garbled speech is that few understood that even within the full context of the meeting.
And as the Washington Post wrote, "It’s never right to call other human beings “animals.” It’s not something we should even have to debate. No matter how debased the behavior of a given individual or group, no matter how much legitimate anger that genuinely evil actions might inspire, dehumanizing others always leads us down a dangerous path."
What say you Mr. President?
Fake News Media had me calling Immigrants, or Illegal Immigrants, “Animals.” Wrong! They were begrudgingly forced to withdraw their stories. I referred to MS 13 Gang Members as “Animals,” a big difference - and so true. Fake News got it purposely wrong, as usual!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2018