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Thread: Zeldin's Immigration, MS-13, Trafficking Roundtable Sparks Outcry

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    Senior Member lorrie's Avatar
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    Zeldin's Immigration, MS-13, Trafficking Roundtable Sparks Outcry

    Zeldin's Immigration, MS-13, Trafficking Roundtable Sparks Outcry

    "I support legal immigration. I oppose illegal immigration. If you want to come to America and pursue the American dream, follow the rules."

    Sep 17, 2018 7:20 pm ET | Updated Sep 18, 2018 1:52 am ET

    RIVERHEAD, NY — A roundtable discussion hosted by Rep. Lee Zeldin at Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead Monday was organized to address the nation's immigration system, how to continue to crack down on gang violence, including deadly MS-13, drug and human trafficking, and a "broken visa system," according to the congressman.

    Zeldin was joined by House Committee on Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart, other law enforcement officials, the family of Justin Llivicura, who was murdered by MS-13, Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays, and the Long Island Farm Bureau for the discussion.

    But not everyone was pleased that the doors weren't open to those who work every day to address immigration issues. The event brought out a crowd of protestors who stood outside with signs to denounce Zeldin.

    Lisa Votino-Tarrant, one of the protestors who lives in Southampton, spoke to Patch: "This forum was a farce. If anyone in that room was serious about working on immigration or gang prevention, they would have invited the people and organizations that do that work 24/7. They are obviously showboating and have no real intention of fixing everything."

    After the roundtable, a media representative for Zeldin said the conversation was "respectful and anything but anti-immigrant."

    However, Minerva Perez, executive director of OLA of Eastern Long Island, voiced her concerns: "The fact that immigrant advocate groups such as OLA of Eastern Long Island were not invited to the table shows the true nature of this gathering, that had nothing to do with safety and everything to do with the continued criminalization of immigrants and exploitation of victims."

    The experts gathered around the table have led efforts locally — with a model to emulate nationally — to defeat MS-13 and stop drug, human and and sex trafficking, Zeldin said. "Our law enforcement community has made tremendous progress targeting MS-13 networks with hundreds of arrests," he said.

    Law enforcement, he said, is targeting individuals not in the country legally who have been deported and have returned, and who have been involved in trafficking and other serious criminal offenses. During Operation Cross Check, ICE arrested 13 individuals on Long Island, all who were previously removed from the country and returned illegally, Zeldin said.

    Last month, Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini launched a major gang initiative to focus exclusively on investigating and prosecuting crimes committed by gang members, he said.

    "Here, in Suffolk County, this mission is all the more personal," Zeldin said. "In 2017, four young lives were sadly and brutally cut short by MS-13, one of whom was Justin Llivicura of East Patchogue," whose parents attended the session.

    The mother of 16-year-old Justin spoke through a translator: "My son was a humble boy and he never had a problem with anyone, and it hurts me a lot to have lost" him. "Thank you very much for remembering the name of my son."

    In January, Suffolk and Nassau County police official visited El Salvador to gain more insight into the inner workings of MS-13 in an effort funded by the Department of Homeland Security, Zeldin said.

    "One of the major findings was the way gang leaders coordinate drug sales and activity," Zeldin said. "Over the summer, the Suffolk County Police Department announced its first human trafficking investigation unit working closely with victims to target high-level traffickers and prostitution ringleaders."

    Since the pilot unit began in March, police have arrested 19 people on 47 counts of trafficking-related offenses, and indicted nine additional traffickers, Zeldin added.

    In April, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, to fight the online sex trafficking industry, he said: "This bill has already been effective in shutting down dozens of trafficking marketplaces."

    And, he said, the House passed the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act "to remove alien gang members before they murder innocent Americans."

    Zeldin said he introduced legislation to remove citizenship for any naturalized citizen tied to a criminal gang and who commits a gang related activity.

    "This administration has taken a hard stance against gang activity, with the President coming to Long Island twice to address these issues and meeting with victim families," he said. "I support legal immigration. I oppose illegal immigration. If you want to come to America and pursue the American dream, follow the rules," Zeldin said. "If you commit a crime and are deported, don't come back."

    Zeldin also addressed "unaccompanied alien children. The influx of UACs has provided fertile recruiting opportunities for brutal transnational gangs like MS-13," he said, adding that a June, 2017 review of UACs in the Office of Refugee Resettlement found that 39 of 138 UACs, or 28 percent, were involved with gangs.

    "Earlier this year, Operation Matador led to the arrest of 177 MS-13 members — 99 of those MS-13 gang members had entered the country as a UAC; that's more than 36%," he said.

    A legal path to enable local businesses to hire temporary workers must also be addressed, Zeldin said.

    Goodlatte spoke about the deadly gangs terrorizing the nation: "According to federal authorities, these gangs have advanced beyond their traditional role as local retail drug distributors and become more organized, adaptable, deliberate and influential in large scale drug trafficking."

    Suffolk County Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante said since 2016, the department's multifaceted approach has resulted in approximately 400 arrests of MS-13 gang members. But, he added, an estimated 600 MS-13 gang members and associates live in the county and have been active over the last several years. MS-13 sustains themselves by constantly recruiting new members, particularly minors and through the UAC program, he said.

    "While the vast majority of these children live law-abiding lives, many of them are vulnerable to gang recruitment — they're young, alone and adjusting to a new country, culture, language and seeking a sense of belonging. The current vetting and screening system of sponsors is in dire need of improvement."

    Robert Carpenter of the Long Island Farm Bureau also spoke about the dire need for a reliable workforce and the role immigration plays.

    "It has been my experience that the farmer workers on our farms are good, honest people who care about the farm and work hard. They want to provide for their families just like anyone else," he said, adding that other industries, including restaurant, hospitality, construction, and other businesses rely on the immigrant work force.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    The Farm Bureau is a criminal enterprise encouraging illegal immigration. They need to stop this or be shut down.
    lorrie, GeorgiaPeach and Beezer like this.
    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
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