Trump vows to dismantle, decimate MS-13 in LI speech

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BRENTWOOD -

President Donald Trump vowed to eradicate MS-13 today during a speech to law enforcement at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood.

The White House had reached out to police unions, and the seats at The Van Nostrand Theatre were packed with officers and top brass from Nassau and Suffolk counties. About 400 members of law enforcement were in attendance. Trump received a standing ovation as he took the stage.  He thanked the officers almost immediately.

“We have your backs, believe me,” he said. “We have your backs 100 percent. Not like the old days.”

During the half-hour speech, Trump referred to MS-13 gang members as "animals" and promised to secure U.S. borders against illegal entry.

“I have a simple message for every gang member and criminal alien that are threatening so violently our people,” he said “We will find you, we will arrest you, we will jail you and we will deport you.”

He added that his administration is "liberating towns one by one" from gang violence, and said that he is "restoring law and order on Long Island." During off-prompter moments, he spoke about the failed GOP health bill, as well as the need to get "rough" with gang criminals.

VIDEO: Watch President Trump's full remarks on LI

As News 12 Long Island has reported, MS-13 members are believed to have murdered 17 people in the last year and a half in Suffolk County. The parents of murdered Brentwood teen Kayla Cuevas were the only family members of victims that were invited to attend. Trump did not acknowledge them by name. Cuevas’ mother, Evelyn, said she's glad the president made the trip to Brentwood.

“I’m just happy that he's here and he recognized that we have a problem here with these gangs and he is going to try to do his best for our community,” she said. “I’m the voice right now for our community, and for our kids and for the other families that lost their loved ones. I just wanted to make sure that we were being heard, and actually we were being heard.”

Gang experts have told News 12 Long Island that not all members of MS-13 are immigrants, that some are U.S. citizens - teenagers who were born and raised here. Still, Trump stressed deportations when talking about the issue today. He called on Congress to provide funding to hire 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

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