President Trump discusses gang violence at Bethpage forum

Posted: Updated:
BETHPAGE -

President Donald Trump was on Long Island Wednesday to lead a discussion on the MS-13 gang.

United States Rep. Peter King invited Trump to attend the roughly 90-minute forum at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage. Trump spoke directly to a room of about 250 people, including local and federal law enforcement, politicians and family members of some Long Islanders slain by MS-13 members.

Trump pledged to continue the war on the gang until every community is safe. He also defended his use of the term "animals" when referring to gang members and called on Congress to change current immigration laws.

"Democrats in Congress refuse to close these loopholes, including the disgraceful practice known as 'catch and release,'" Trump said.

WATCH THE ENTIRE FORUM: Part 1 | Part 2

Both Nassau and Suffolk's police commissioners then spoke, telling the president that Long Island police need federal help and federal dollars.

The parents of murdered Brentwood teens Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens, whose September 2016 deaths were linked to MS-13, also addressed the president.

"You said the other day that these individuals are animals -- you're correct," said Evelyn Rodriguez, Cuevas' mother, who sat directly next to Trump. "No child should ever, ever have to suffer. As parents, we have to endure that pain, that numbness every day of our lives."

Trump vowed to make what he called radical changes to the nation's aid practices by withholding U.S. government assistance to countries that allow their citizens to enter the U.S. illegally. He did not specify to which countries that would pertain.

Trump was set to attend a fundraiser in New York City Wednesday evening. The 75-person dinner was expected to raise $5 million for the Republican National Committee and the president's re-election campaign.

  • President Trump discusses gang violence at Bethpage forumMore>>

  • Immigrant advocates rally outside Trump event

    Immigrant advocates rally outside Trump event

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 5:31 PM EDT2018-05-23 21:31:37 GMT
    Protesters gathered ahead of President Donald Trump's visit to Bethpage on Wednesday.Protesters gathered ahead of President Donald Trump's visit to Bethpage on Wednesday.
    Protesters gathered ahead of President Donald Trump's visit to Bethpage on Wednesday.Protesters gathered ahead of President Donald Trump's visit to Bethpage on Wednesday.

    Protesters gathered ahead of President Donald Trump's visit to Bethpage on Wednesday.

    Protesters gathered ahead of President Donald Trump's visit to Bethpage on Wednesday.

  • SlideshowsGalleriesMore>>

  • Dog Day Fridays for Oct. 18

    Dog Day Fridays for Oct. 18

    Friday, October 18 2019 10:16 AM EDT2019-10-18 14:16:58 GMT
    Douglas is a 5-year-old, male, neutered Cattle dog mix rescued through the Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand from the streets of Thailand. These dogs are often rounded up and sold to the dog meat trade in China. He is good with dogs and older children.Douglas is a 5-year-old, male, neutered Cattle dog mix rescued through the Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand from the streets of Thailand. These dogs are often rounded up and sold to the dog meat trade in China. He is good with dogs and older children.
    Douglas is a 5-year-old, male, neutered Cattle dog mix rescued through the Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand from the streets of Thailand. These dogs are often rounded up and sold to the dog meat trade in China. He is good with dogs and older children.Douglas is a 5-year-old, male, neutered Cattle dog mix rescued through the Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand from the streets of Thailand. These dogs are often rounded up and sold to the dog meat trade in China. He is good with dogs and older children.
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Almost Home Animal Rescue & Adoption. The shelter is located at 646 Medford Ave. in Patchogue. Their phone number is (631) 627-3665.
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Almost Home Animal Rescue & Adoption. The shelter is located at 646 Medford Ave. in Patchogue. Their phone number is (631) 627-3665.
  • Your Oct. 16 storm photos

    Your Oct. 16 storm photos

    Storm photos Oct. 17Storm photos Oct. 17
    Storm photos Oct. 17Storm photos Oct. 17
    Heavy right and high winds swept through the tri-state area due to a large coast storm on the night of Oct. 16. Here are your photos from the storm.
    Heavy right and high winds swept through the tri-state area due to a large coast storm on the night of Oct. 16. Here are your photos from the storm.
  • Yankees in the 2019 Playoffs

    Yankees in the 2019 Playoffs

    New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.
    New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.
    Photos on the field of the New York Yankees in the 2019 American League Division Series vs. the Minnesota Twins.
    Photos on the field of the New York Yankees in the 2019 American League Division Series vs. the Minnesota Twins.
sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."