By Roberta Rampton and Mica Rosenberg
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – President Donald Trump arrived in New York on Friday for a visit to a community shocked by a recent spate of graphic gang murders to highlight his efforts to stop illegal immigration and boost deportations.
Trump’s trip to Brentwood on Long Island east of the city gives the president an opportunity to showcase some progress on his agenda even as his push to overhaul healthcare failed in Congress – and some respite from the chaos of a nasty power struggle among his senior staff that blew up on Thursday.
Trump will highlight his administration’s push to deport members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, better known as MS-13, the existence of which his White House blames on lax enforcement of illegal immigration from Central America.
“If you’re a gang member and you’re here illegally, you’re going home,” senior White House adviser Stephen Miller told reporters traveling on Air Force One with Trump.
Miller said Trump’s speech would focus on urging Congress to appropriate more money for immigration agents and judges, and to give them more authority to quickly deport people from Central America who cross the border illegally.
Trump’s visit comes as his Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to El Salvador to highlight progress on the gang crackdown.
The Republican president has previously praised Sessions for his focus on gangs, but lately has publicly expressed disappointment with him in relation to investigations into Trump’s election campaign and Russia, raising questions about how long Sessions will remain in the job.
The MS-13 gang took root in Los Angeles in the 1980s in neighborhoods populated with immigrants from El Salvador who had fled the civil war there. The Justice Department has said MS-13 now has more than 10,000 members across the United States.
In Brentwood – about 30 miles (50 km) east of the New York City borough of Queens where Trump grew up – MS-13 was behind the murders of two teenage girls…