Law enforcement officials on Long Island say they're looking forward to President Trump's visit on Friday and are "extending a warm welcome" to the president -- but some residents have a different message.
Trump is arriving in Suffolk to discuss the federal war on the violent MS-13 gang, blamed for 17 murders in the county over the last year and a half. He tweeted Thursday, "Big progress being made in ridding out country of MS-13 gang members and gang members in general. MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN!"
An official said Trump believes Suffolk is the epicenter of the MS-13 threat.
Immigrant advocates on Long Island have accused the president of politicizing the MS-13 gang problem to justify a crackdown on all undocumented immigrants. On Thursday afternoon, protesters gathered outside Suffolk Community College to condemn his visit.
"The irony is that Donald Trump has decided to use our community as a backdrop for his national agenda -- an agenda built on hate," said anti-gang activist Sergio Argueta.
"So many politicians, when they use rhetoric against immigrants, they create chaos and fear," said Joselo Lucero, the brother of an Ecuadorian immigrant who was killed in a hate crime in 2008.
But the Suffolk County sheriff's office says in a statement they're looking forward to meeting with the president "as he seeks to change the trajectory on outworn immigration policies -- and make America safer and more prosperous for all," adding that "Long Island is now at the heart of the nation's immigration debate. MS-13 gang violence and murders have gripped its suburban communities."
More than 100 Suffolk County deputy sheriffs and correction officers are expected to attend Trump's speaking event in Brentwood on Friday. Suffolk police are overseeing security.
Suffolk Republican Party Chairman John LaValle also cheered Trump's visit: "It's literally like Elvis is coming to town."
The parents of two teenage girls murdered last September by alleged MS-13 members say they hope to meet Trump during his visit. Rob Mickens and Elizabeth Alvarado, the parents of Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas, who were best friends, say they haven't received a formal invitation to meet with Trump.
“I really want to say to (Trump), how are we really going to end this problem?” said Rob Mickens. “Why did it take this long?”
A senior administration official says Trump will call on Congress to deliver and ask for 10,000 more ICE officers. Right now, there are only about 5,000 serving the country.
Trump is also expected to push his promise of a borderwall. The campaign says it help stop the flow of illegal immigrants, which the campaign says is behind the rising violent gang problem.
Trump is expected to talk sometime before 2 p.m.