In gang-plagued New York town, some are wary of Trump visit

Brentwood (United States) (AFP) – President Donald Trump on Friday will visit a New York suburb traumatized by the violent street gang MS-13, which he has pledged to wipe out, but many in the Long Island community of Brentwood are wary of his motives.

The gang, which is largely Salvadoran, has killed 17 people here over the past year and a half.

Around 70 percent of the 60,000 people in Brentwood are Latinos, mainly from Central America, and many are living in the US illegally, without residency papers.

So they are as afraid, if not more afraid, of immigration authorities and the prospect of deportation as they are of the gang, whose initials stand for Mara Salvatrucha.

More than 40 community organizations in Brentwood, which is about 45 miles (70 kilometers) east of Manhattan, say that Trump’s visit is really a bid to stir up his political base and advance the part of his agenda that seeks robust deportation of unauthorized immigrants.

Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters waving flags and banners rallied Friday outside the community college where Trump is scheduled to speak. A White House official says he will link MS-13 and illegal migration.

“Trump’s visit here is an attempt to generalize violence and associate it with all Latinos. It is a pretext for winning votes, a way of promoting his racism,” said Edwin Avila, a 44-year-old Salvadoran who has lived in Brentwood for 20 years.

On the other side of the street, several dozen Trump supporters insulted the protesters and chanted, “Eight more years.”

– ‘Why come here?’-

Since 2014, some 8,000 undocumented minors have arrived on Long Island, fleeing gang violence and poverty in Central America. Police say that after arriving, many are forcibly recruited by MS-13.

The gang originated among Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles in the 1980s and then spread to Central America.

Today, it is estimated to have some 10,000 members in the United States and be present in 40 states. Authorities say it now has around 400 members on Long…

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