Photo of Donald Trump

Remarks During a Roundtable Discussion on Immigration in Bethpage, New York

May 23, 2018

The President. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Great to be here. Oh, do I know this location well, that beautiful Bethpage State Park. I spent a lot of hours there. Great place. Thank you very much and good afternoon.

We're here today to discuss the menace of MS-13. It's a menace. A ruthless gang that has violated our borders and transformed once peaceful neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields. They're horrible people, by the way.

Thank you very much to Secretary Nielsen; Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—Rod, thank you; Acting ICE Director Tom Homan, who is going to be—I hope you're going to be with us for a long time. [Laughter] I'm hearing he's going to go into a little bit of an easier job, but you won't be happy. You won't be happy. [Laughter] What a job you've done. Thank you very much, Tom. And Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan. Thank you very much. Thank you, John.

And we also have a couple of folks with us today—Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive. Wherever Laura may be. Hi, Laura.

Nassau County, NY, Executive Laura Curran. Hi.

The President. How are you, Laura? Thank you very much.

I want to thank a very good friend of mine for a long time that this area knows very well, the great Peter King. Thank you, Peter. Thank you. Doing a good job. And he's fully got my endorsement, even though I assume he has no opponents. I don't know if he has any opponent. I—nobody would be that crazy to run against Peter. [Laughter] Congressman Lee Zeldin. Thank you. Thank you, Lee. Great job you do. Thank you for all your help. And Congressman Daniel Donovan, really known as Dan, right? Dan Donovan. He's been a friend. For their great leadership in combating MS-13.

Also, Erin King—you know who I'm talking about—Sweeney. Where's Erin? [Laughter] Where are you? Where are you? Hello, Erin. How are you? A little bit of a relationship.

Representative Peter T. King. That's my wife, Rosemary, next to her.

The President. Oh, Rosemary. Hi, Rosemary. See, you say, "That's my wife." I know that's your wife. [Laughter] Nice to see you. Thanks, Rosemary. Thanks for being here. Thank you very much, Erin. It's a great honor to have you.

We're also grateful to be joined by Commissioner Geri Hart of Suffolk County, and Commissioner Patrick Ryder. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. And they know this threat probably as well as anybody.

We're especially moved today to be joined by families who have suffered unthinkable heartbreak at the hands of the MS-13 gangs. I'm truly honored to be joined again by the courageous families who were my guests at the State of the Union—that was a special evening—Elizabeth Alvarado, Robert Mickens, Evelyn Rodriguez, and Freddy Cuevas. Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you. Their beautiful daughters, Kayla and Nisa, were murdered by MS-13 gang members, many of whom exploited glaring loopholes—and we have the biggest loopholes of any country anywhere in the world. We have the worst immigration laws of any country anywhere in the world. But they exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors. They look so innocent; they're not innocent.

We are praying for these families with us today, and we pledge to honor the memory of those you lost with action and resolve—and I'll just add another word—with great success. And thank you very much for being here. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it. And they will not have passed in vain, that I can tell you.

MS-13 lives by the motto, "Kill, Rape, and Control." That's actually their motto: "Kill, Rape, and Control." Last month, MS-13 reportedly called for its members here on Long Island, where I essentially grew up. You know Jamaica, right? I always said, "Long Island." [Laughter] It's very close. To call and to see what happened is just incredible.

But they killed a cop for the sake of making a statement. They wanted to make a statement, so they killed a cop, a policeman. Here in Nassau County, MS-13 gang members were charged with killing and hacking up a teenager. And police officers just told me four other young men were brutally murdered recently by MS-13 in Suffolk—Suffolk County.

In Maryland, MS-13 gang members are accused of stabbing a man 100 times, decapitating him, and ripping out his heart. Police officers also believe the MS-13 members beat a sex-trafficked 15-year-old girl with a bat 28 times, totally disfiguring a beautiful young woman. In Texas, two MS-13 gang members were charged after kidnapping, drugging, and raping a 14-year-old girl. They then murdered her and somebody else.

Crippling loopholes in our laws have enabled MS-13 gang members and other criminals to infiltrate our communities, and Democrats in Congress refuse to close these loopholes, including the disgraceful practice known as catch-and-release. That's, you catch them, you write up a little piece of paper that's meaningless, and then you release them. And they go all through the country, and they're supposed to come back for trials. They never come back or very rarely. It's the rare person that comes back.

Democrats have to abandon their resistance to border security so that we can support law enforcement and save innocent lives. And I noticed recently, where Democrats—Nancy Pelosi, as an example—are trying to defend MS-13 gang members. I called them "animals" the other day, and I was met with rebuke. They said, "They are people." They're not people. These are animals, and we have to be very, very tough.

So I'd now like to turn this over to a man—really, he has been a great friend of mine—a tremendous supporter—and I've always been a supporter of his, Peter King. He does an incredible job, and nobody knows this situation and this horror show and these laws—how bad they are, worst in the world—better than Peter King. Peter.

Rep. King. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you very much. And let me say what a——

The President. Thank you. [Applause] Thank you. Thank you.

Rep. King. Mr. President, what an honor it is to have you back here on Long Island. As you say, you're a neighbor. You were in Suffolk County last year, Nassau County this year. And you, more than anyone in the country, is highlighting the evil of MS-13. So I congratulate you. I thank you for leading this effort. It's a—they are horrible, vicious, rotten murderers. And you are really leading the charge. And thank you for doing this. Thank you for assembling all of us here today. And thank you for mobilizing all the efforts of the Federal Government behind this. So thank you very much.

Also, on a somewhat jocular note, let me tell Laura Curran—I want to thank her—I'll be giving visas to Donovan and Zeldin, to let them into Nassau County. [Laughter] I promise you I'll get them out of here as soon as I can. Okay? [Laughter]

County Executive Curran. They can stay as long as they want.

Rep. King. Okay. This is a very serious issue. To have these family members here. I've worked with them; I know what they've gone through.

[At this point, Rep. King continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

So, Mr. President, you have experts here that can talk. I just want to, again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you're doing. Thank you.

The President. Well, thank you very much, Peter. I do want to say, and I have to pay great tribute to ICE and Border Patrol. But ICE came in, and they are doing a job. We are taking them out by the thousands. Now, if we had laws that were proper, they wouldn't be coming back to the extent, but they've taken them out by the thousands. And it's way down, but it's still far too much. And it's unacceptable.

So I thought maybe what we'll do is, we'll go around the table, say a few words, if you might. We'll start right here. You have done a fantastic job and we appreciate it. Let's go. Why don't we start? Thank you, John.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division John R. Cronan. Thank you, Mr. President. On the very day that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was sworn in, you signed an Executive order with a very clear directive: reduce crime in America. And it is my honor to support carrying out your mandate by helping to bring MS-13 to justice and by working to dismantle this gang that's terrorizing our communities. I know people in this room are very familiar with the horrifying stats, but MS-13 is one of the most violent and formidable threats that our country faces today.

[Mr. Cronan continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

Well, Mr. President, thanks to our criminal justice system, he will also be receiving a mandatory life sentence.

The President. Great.

Mr. Cronan. And to give one other example, Mr. President—last November, Yerwin Hernandez-Ordonez, a Honduran national, who was illegally in the United States, was sentenced for his role of an MS-13 murder in Virginia. Hernandez-Ordonez oversaw two young MS-13 recruits. They were tasked with murdering a rival gang member to gain admission into MS-13.

[Mr. Cronan continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

We want these savages incapacitated before they can try to cross over our borders. We cannot—and we will not—permit our country to be a playground for MS-13 to pursue its murderous mission. Dismantling violent gangs is a top priority of this Department of Justice, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and it will remain such as we continue to use all law enforcement tools at our disposal to rid our streets of the scourge of MS-13. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you very much, John. Great job. Thank you. Great job, John.


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Thomas D. Homan. Mr. President, I want to—first of all, I want to thank you for your leadership on this issue. I want to thank the Secretary. I couldn't ask for two better bosses that take border security and public safety more seriously than you all.

I also want to give a shout-out to law enforcement officers in this room, the ones that carry a badge and gun every day and put their lives on the line for the communities. We've got a President—unprecedented support for law enforcement, and I thank you guys. As a 33-year veteran of law enforcement, you're doing a tremendous job. You've got the backs of law enforcement. You've got their six, and we appreciate it.

The President. Thank you. Thank you, Tom. Thank you.

Acting Director Homan. Now, I'm much older and blinder than John, so I've got to wear my glasses, because there are some important numbers I want to read to back you up on the statements you made coming here, because a lot of times you're questioned about it. So I want to read some numbers.

[Acting Director Homan continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

So I want to thank you again for your leadership. ICE is on the job. ICE isn't going away. New York, despite your Governor's comments about ICE, ICE has done a lot for this State, and we'll continue doing a lot for this State. We've taken nearly 5,000 criminal aliens off the street in New York, and we're not going anywhere. We're going to be here and do our job and try to make this the safest place that the community is going to have.

Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

The President. Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Tom. Great job. Thank you.

Rod. Thank you.

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. Thank you, Mr. President. Under your leadership, Attorney General Sessions has made violent crime and illegal immigration a top priority for the Department of Justice, and we're making tremendous progress. We're working in coordination with Homeland Security and with our other Federal partners, as well as State and local law enforcement.

[Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

So we're hopeful, Mr. President, that we can get some assistance from the Congress in closing some of these loopholes so that our law enforcement officers won't have to work so hard and so we won't have more victims like Kayla and Nisa.

Thank you.

The President. And I think—that's great, Rod. And I think it's happening. I mean, I'm seeing a willingness, even, to a certain extent, by the Democrats. They're starting to come around, but it's brutal. It's brutal. As you know better than anybody, it's a tough situation. We need the laws enhanced very substantially and very quickly. Thank you, Rod, very much. Very nice. Thank you. Patrick.

Nassau County, NY, Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. Mr. President, first of all, on behalf of all our Nassau County police officers—and I think I can speak for every officer in this room and in this country—we know we have a President that has our back and supports us every single day when we go out and do the mission that we are tasked to do.

We have about 500 identified MS-13 members in Nassau County. About 250 of them are active. And we do that through—everything is evidence-based and through intelligence-led policing. Last year, in 2017, we had six kids that were murdered in Nassau County by MS-13. Of those six, one was shot in the face, one was shot in the back of the head, four of them were violently butchered by machetes and buried in shallow graves throughout our county.

[Commissioner Ryder continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

Most of the murders that have occurred here in Nassau County were done because somebody wanted to get into the gang, and part of the initiation was to kill and take a body. And these are innocent kids that are out there, lured into these wooded areas with alcohol and the potential of sex and drugs.

If our intelligence is better, if our evidence-based approach is better, and our community relations stay strong, we can make a difference and turn the tide on that. And that—we're going to look to you for all that help, sir.

The President. Thank you very much, Patrick. That's great. I appreciate it. Thank you. Great job. Really good. You've done a fantastic job.

Robert and Elizabeth, we're going to save you for a couple of minutes. We want to hear from a couple of these politicians first. Right? [Laughter] And then, we're going to get to the real story. We appreciate it.

Dan, go ahead.

Representative Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. Thank you, Mr. President. And I'd remind you, we're public servants; we're not politicians. [Laughter]

But thank you for your leadership here. This is our second visit.

The President. You are. [Laughter]

Rep. Donovan. This is our second visit here to Nassau County. This is the second time that, through your leadership, you came here, because this community is hurting.

Behind you is a sign that says, "Secure our borders, protect our communities." That's one sentence with a comma in it. If we do one, we achieve the other. And it's the one thing that you've been trying to do for the 15 months that you've led this Nation. We need border security. We need tougher immigration laws. We need to help communities like this.

[Rep. Donovan continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your commitment to protect our Nation. And thank you for your support of our law enforcement officers.

The President. Good. Thank you very much, Dan.

And just before—thank you, Dan—just before we get to the Secretary, I have to say that many of these countries we give tremendous amounts of aid to, tens of millions of dollars. And we're working on a plan to deduct a lot of the aid, because I happen to believe that it's not so hard. You know, they'll let you think that they're trying to stop this. They're not trying to stop it. I think they encourage people from leaving. They don't want the people. They don't want the people that we're getting in that country.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen. That's right.

The President. So we're going to work out something where every time somebody comes in from a certain country, we're going to deduct a rather large amount of money from what we give them in aid, if we give them aid at all, which we may not just give them aid at all. Because despite all of the reports I hear, I don't believe they're helping us one bit. And maybe that's the way life is, but they're not helping us a lot based on the fact that we know where these people are coming from.

So we're looking at our whole aid structure, and it's going to be changed very radically. It's already started.

All right? Thank you very much, Dan.

Secretary Nielsen.

Secretary Nielsen. Yes, sir. Thank you. I might just talk loudly, if that works. [Laughter] So I just want to thank you, as always, for your leadership on behalf of the largest law enforcement agency in the Federal Government. We so appreciate your leadership, your support. I know Tom and Tom's folks do; I always tell them that I will always empower them and support them, but you enable me to do that. So we thank you always for your leadership.

[Secretary Nielsen continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

We are going after the gangs. Director Homan talked a lot about that. We're protecting children. We need to protect all the children that do come here. So we're increasing background checks to make sure that when we do, through HHS, hand over a child to a sponsor or alleged family member, that they are, in fact, either a family member or somebody who is not a convicted criminal, smuggler, or trafficker. And finally, we're pressing Congress, and I will continue to do that. I had many conversations on the Hill this week. I have made it my duty. I appreciate the Members being here for that reason. But we will close these loopholes, and we will take our communities back under President Trump.

So thank you all for being here.

The President. Thank you, Kirstjen. Thank you. Great job. Thank you. And thank you for the really great job you're doing. I really appreciate it. Not easy. Not easy.


Representative Lee M. Zeldin. Mr. President, thank you for coming back, again. This is your second time in less than a year that you're on Long Island for this purpose. And the message that gets sent to the victims of MS-13 is certainly being heard and felt by them. And the message is being heard and felt by the law enforcement officers here on Long Island, who MS-13 has been threatening. It sends a strong message not only to Long Islanders who care about our community and our public safety, but it also sends a strong message all throughout our entire country. It's really important when you run for office that you're able to keep your promises. And the effort that you have been showing to ensure the defeat of MS-13 is incredibly important, and it's recognized.

[Rep. Zeldin continued his remarks, concluding as follows.] And also, to everyone watching at home who is standing with our President, it's an important message to send: Whether you vote for a President or not, his success is our success as Americans. And as Americans, you should be rooting for this man to be successful as President of the United States.

The President. Thank you, Lee. Thank you.

And you bring up a name, U.S. Attorney Donoghue. Where are you, please? U.S. attorney.

Rep. Zeldin. He's out of the country.

The President. Oh, okay.

Rep. Zeldin. Otherwise, he would be here.

The President. I was just trying to figure out why we didn't introduce him, only because he's not here. [Laughter] But he's doing a great job.

Rep. Zeldin. Yes, he is.

The President. Good. Thank you very much.


Suffolk County, NY, Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart. Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you for this opportunity to speak with you today on this important topic. I represent the hard-working men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department, and I echo my partner Paddy Ryder's sentiments to thank you for your leadership on this critical issue.

[Commissioner Hart continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

We are grateful for the commitment and support of the President and the Federal Government on this important matter. Within the last year, the Suffolk County Police Department received a grant of $500,000, through the Project Safe Neighborhoods, and I thank you for that. However, we could certainly use additional funding to assist in offsetting additional policing efforts—[laughter]—and costs moving forward. I can't miss out on that opportunity. [Laughter]

The President. You're right.

Commissioner Hart. Mr. President, we appreciate this opportunity to speak with you. We are committed to having this dialogue further, in order to protect and serve all the residents of Suffolk County. And I thank you.

The President. Well, thank you very much, Geri. Thank you. Thank you very much. And you're right, and you should get more.

I think what we'll do is, we'll close it out with Peter later. But, Robert, I would love to hear from you, would love to hear from Elizabeth. Maybe you go ahead. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Brentwood, NY, resident Robert Mickens. I'd like to say thank you, Mr. President, for all the hard work that you've been doing since you got into office, with help eradicating this gang, help bringing some type of peace to our home, even though it's still not going to be the same.

For those who don't know, who haven't been through this, we have to go through this every day. It's an ongoing struggle. It's not easy for us, especially me, to wake up, look down the hallway, and not see my daughter laying in her bed or me waking her up for school in the morning. It's very difficult.

[Mr. Mickens continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

Obviously, this is a very touching subject because there's immigration involved, but they have to realize America is based off of immigration. Everybody who came here as an immigrant wanted the American Dream. The American Dream is still there. But if you're going to come here with acts of violence, you can stay in your own country with that, because we don't need it here anymore. Thank you.

The President. Thank you, Robert. So beautiful. Thank you, Robert. Incredible. That's incredible. Thank you.

And the American Dream is coming back bigger and better than ever. You know that. And I have to say, the protesters, they're not so big anymore. They're dwindling. They're getting it. Everyone is getting it. And what you just said is beautiful, and we appreciate it.

Mr. Mickens. Thank you.

The President. Thank you. Really nice.

Elizabeth, would you like to say something? And thank you, Robert.

Brentwood, NY, resident Elizabeth Alvarado. Every day I wake up, I feel like she's coming home. But we have to help our children. We have to educate them. We have to, you know, look into the schools and make sure that your kids are okay. My daughter was only 15 years old, and she acted like a 30-year-old. She already knew what she wanted in her life. And at 5:23, every day of my life, I feel like she's going to come through that door. But I know she's not.

[Ms. Alvarado continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

So I just hope that my message comes out, that we all need to be educated on how MS-13 is. I appreciate everybody's love and friendship, and meeting the President. Who would ever thought that I would do that? But I met remarkable people in my journey, and I hope they stick by me so that we can put a closure to this. Thank you.

The President. Thank you, Elizabeth. Beautiful. Thank you, Elizabeth. We will stick by you too. We will stick by you. Thank you very much. Thank you, Robert.

Freddy, do you want to start? Evelyn, go ahead.

Brentwood, NY, resident Evelyn Rodriguez. I want to thank you for having us here today to discuss what's been going on here on the Island and throughout the United States.

Rep. King. Check the mike.

Ms. Rodriguez. Sorry. I want to thank everyone for being here. And, Mr. President, thank you again for listening to us and our needs in eradicating these MS-13 individuals.

My daughter Kayla was a beautiful girl. She had dreams, and they took that away from her. That's not right. And how these kids were murdered, tortured, is unacceptable. We should not be tolerating this behavior at all whatsoever.

[Ms. Rodriguez continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

My daughter and Nisa supposed to be graduating in a couple of weeks. We're supposed to be getting, you know, graduation outfits, having a party. We're unable to do that. No parent should ever have to go through this, at all. We have families here from the four boys from Central Islip: Jose Peña, Jorge—[inaudible], Michael, and Jefferson. Their families are suffering every day, but they thank you for your hard work in trying to make the situation a little bit better.

The President. Please stand. Please. Please.

Ms. Rodriguez. People have to realize that these situations originates in school. It plays out in school, and it comes out into the streets. We need to focus on what's happening in the schools. We have to put in professional educators in there to help the teachers, the school administration how to handle this. They say they know how to handle it; they really don't.

[Ms. Rodriguez continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

Whether you're Black, White, Hispanic, green, purple, alien out of this space, there is a consequence. When you do a crime, there's a consequence. You're not going to get off easy. And especially, especially when you murder a child. That is unacceptable. Thank you.

The President. Thank you.

Freddy. Please.

Brentwood, NY, resident Freddy Cuevas. First and foremost, Mr. President and everybody on this panel—there's too many names I can say at once—[laughter]—I would like to say, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. This is the third time that you visit Long Island—second time, excuse me—and I appreciate everything and all the efforts that everybody is doing back in DC as well.

And also, we'd like to thank Peter King as well, for giving us this privilege to have all the heads of the departments and States to come here and realize the problem that we're enduring.

My daughter was a beautiful girl. She was a person that was—had achievements, had goals. And those were taken from her. She's not here no longer because of the situation that these individuals—like you said, I think that you used the correct word, "animals," that they are—took her away from us and destroyed her dream.

We appreciate everything that's being done, and we just need to tackle the issue stronger. And hopefully, we can eliminate them and make sure that it doesn't happen again to any of the families or anybody else within our world.

Thank you once again, everyone. Appreciate it.

The President. Thank you. Thank you, Freddy.


Rep. King. Thank you, Mr. President. Again, let me thank you for doing this. And let me also acknowledge our Town Supervisor Joe Saladino, who is here today and doing a great job.

And, Mr. President, all I can say is, first of all, thank you for doing this. It's beyond description the good you're doing by this. I think this is one of the most important and significant events ever on Long Island because it addresses an issue which local people have been facing for a long time. But for the first time, the Federal Government—your level—the U.S. attorney has always been trying and ICE and others, but no one from your level has ever, ever given the attention you have. So I want to thank you very much for what you're doing. Thank you for your dedication. Thank you for always being there. And they can protest all they want. We're with you. Thank you.

The President. Thank you, Peter.

Well, I just want to—I really want to thank all of the families. And Robert, Elizabeth—so beautiful. Thank you very much. I really appreciate that. That was incredible. And Freddy, Evelyn, thank you very much.

Mr. Cuevas. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Not much you can say other than we are really working hard on this problem. This is a horrible problem. We're bringing them out, and our people are rougher than them. That's the only language they understand. It would be wonderful if we could talk nicely and softly—[laughter]—but the only language they understand is that toughness. And, Tom, you've displayed it; your people have displayed it. Everybody up here has displayed it. Everybody.

But the records are being set, but they still keep coming in. We need immigration laws. We need strong laws. And we're going to get them. It's moving. It's harder and harder for the Democrats to fight it. Look, it's—I'd like to say it's just people doing it. It's—they happen to be Democrats. They're very well unified in this regard, but they're starting to break up now. Finally, they're starting to break up.

And the other day was actually a great day, when they were coming to the defense of MS-13. They're coming to the defense, and that was the end of them, because nobody, nobody understood it. Nobody. When they started rationalizing, and—maybe it was the way they grew up. And maybe it was, but we're stuck with a big problem.

Again, you heard the numbers. You heard what a number of the folks have said. We're taking them out by the thousands, by the thousands. And they're being thrown out of the country. They're being put in jails.

When they're put in jails, that costs us a fortune for years and years and years as a country. But when we throw them out, they go back on the streets; they don't go anywhere. The countries don't want them. In some cases, the countries don't take them. But now, with us, they take them. With the previous administration, they'd say, "No, we don't want them." With us, it's a much different deal. They take them, but you don't know what they do with them. Do they let them out? Do they put them in jail? Are they incarcerated? They're murderers, in many cases. Are they incarcerated?

So we're very tough, but we're getting a lot tougher. But we do need law changes. We need those laws to change. Because we can be really smart and we can really know what we're doing—which we do—these are all incredible professionals, every one up here, incredible professional. But when the laws are no good, the laws are horrible, there's not much you can do beyond what we're doing.

We're down on immigration, crossing the borders, more than 40 percent. We were actually down 77 percent. Our economy is doing so well, people are coming across the border. The economy is—it's one bad thing about having a great economy, frankly. But the economy is doing so well that people are crossing the border. In many cases, they're crossing for reasons of good, but in many cases, they're crossing for reasons of really, really bad. But these people are incredible people. And I want to thank you all for being here too. I know what you've gone through. I just want to thank you very much for being here.

We are making tremendous strides. We will continue. And in a not-too-distant future, I feel totally confident that this product—this problem will be eradicated. We're not going to have this problem. I essentially grew up on Long Island. And when I hear Hempstead and Mineola and all of the places that I know so well, that you can't walk outside—this used to be where you'd leave your doors unlocked, you'd leave your windows open, always. And you have gang members now that are so rough, people are afraid to go outside.

We have these trucks coming in; they used to call them paddy wagons. I don't know what they call them anymore. What do they call them, Tom? But we have the ICE guys coming in, and I'll tell you something—the ICE guys are a lot rougher than the MS-13 guys. They're rougher, they're tougher, and they're meaner. And they throw them into—I don't want to mention the name of a town, but a town that I know very well. They throw these guys into these wagons, these rolling jails. And you have people applauding. It's almost like a war, where you're getting rid of somebody that's occupying your nation.

And for me to go through and be in this position and see towns that I've known all my life—I grew up here; I know every one of the towns—and it's unthinkable that it's almost like an occupied territory, where your children are afraid to go out, and in many cases, if they go out, bad things happen.

But when you see the scene—and I saw it, Tom; I saw it—of guys being thrown right into these wagons, being taken away, and the crowd is cheering—cheering. And in one way, it's beautiful, and another way, it's terrible that we're having to even conceivably do that, especially in a place that you've known so well all your life that was safe.

I just want to thank the law enforcement, because what they go through and the restrictions that are put on them are incredible: They've got to be nice; they can't be too tough. They have to be gentle. They can't touch; they can't do anything. And they do an incredible job. And people understand it.

And to law enforcement—I have to tell you, because I've gotten to know the heart of this country maybe better than anybody, and that's why I'm here—the people out there love you and respect you. You may read a lot of stuff. I will tell you, you are the most respected people there are. And on behalf of everybody, I want to thank you very much for what you do. Thank you. Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:05 p.m. at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center. In his remarks, he referred to Erin King Sweeney, district council member, Hempstead, NY; Miguel Alvarez-Flores and Diego Hernandez-Rivera, who are accused in the kidnapping and murder of a Houston, TX, area teenager; and Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. attorney, Eastern District of New York. Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan referred to Jeremy Oto Soto and Luis Osvaldo Ramirez-Cabello, who were convicted for their role in the murder of Osbin Noel Hernandez-Gonzalez in Richmond, VA, on July 24, 2011. Acting Director Homan referred to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York. Rep. King referred to Town Supervisor Joseph S. Saladino of Oyster Bay, NY.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks During a Roundtable Discussion on Immigration in Bethpage, New York Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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