SEAFORD - Rep. Peter King is drawing fire for his remarks about unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America on Long Island.
In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, the Republican congressman said thousands of young immigrants on Long Island are contributing to the rise in gang violence.
"The numbers of MS-13 gang incidents have risen dramatically because of the number of these kids coming in," King said. "The schools and the police are coping but it is an added problem... There is no doubt there has been an increase as far as attempted recruitment of MS-13, or MS-13 influence."
Nassau and Suffolk police say violent crime is down on Long Island, and King says the police are doing a good job, but he says more needs to be done. "If the federal government is going to be sending those kids into those communities then the dollars should follow," he said.
King says he previously sponsored a bill in the house with fellow Rep. Steve Israel that would have sent federal funding to Long Island schools to help with the influx of students and gangs. However, the bill never made it out of Congress.
King says he plans to contact Israel again to see if they can resurrect the bill but add in more money for local police.
Members of the immigrant community on Long Island, however, dispute the fact that immigrant children are to blame for the rise in gang violence. The group Latino-Justice tells Newsday that King's comments are not true and says first-generation immigrants have the lowest crime rate.
Other advocates say King's funding plan is headed in the wrong direction. Sergio Argueta, from the group STRONG Youth, says that funding should focus on education and community programs for young people, instead of police-organized programs or enforcement.