Immigration forum discusses how Washington can help LI gang problem

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RIVERHEAD -

A meeting in Riverhead Monday discussed how Washington can help the growing problem of gangs on Long Island.

Immigration reform and gang violence was the topic of discussion at the forum at Suffolk Community College.

The event was hosted by Rep. Lee Zeldin, of Shirley.

The group heard primarily from law enforcement groups about what they would like to see Washington do about immigration reform, and primarily about MS-13 gang violence.

While MS-13 gang violence has been well documented on Long Island, Suffolk police say there's a growing problem they're concerned about - human trafficking.

"What we see is girls in particular being hooked on opioids and then being used by the gang - trafficked by the gangs. To recover these girls is obviously a No. 1 priority," said Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart.

Outside the building, protesters advocating for immigrants' rights complained that they should have been allowed to speak at the forum.

Zeldin said the forum was never intended to be open to the public.  He said it was a chance for law enforcement and other groups to say what action they would like Congress to take.

Zeldin brought Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to the hearing. He chairs the House Judiciary Committee,  a position Zeldin says is key in getting any immigration reform legislation passed.

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