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NY expands programs for youth in Long Island to cut off MS-13 recruitment

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NEW YORK — Officials in New York plan to cut off MS-13 recruitment efforts with new programs for youth in at-risk areas.

The $11.5 million plan will expand after-school programs and vocational training to “ensure that young people have better options available to them than joining a gang,” officials said. It will focus on areas of Long Island plagued by MS-13.

“MS-13 and the senseless violence it trades in have made New York communities fearful and recruited too many youth to a dead end path of violence and crime and we refuse to let this continue,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “The key to our comprehensive plan to change that is to target gang activity by attacking the root cause – youth recruitment – through programs and outreach to protect vulnerable students from being preyed on, and stop the scourge of MS-13 once and for all.”

Most members join between the ages of 11 and 15. Gang members recruit children while they’re still in school, local District Attorney Madeline Singas previously said. MS-13  members threaten the child and demand they join the gang.

“[They’ve] stolen the childhoods of the vulnerable young people they recruit to join their ranks,” Singas said.

MS-13 is known to target vulnerable young people, including immigrants without strong family ties and social support. Cuomo proposed investing $3 million over three years to expand comprehensive support services for immigrant youth, with a focus on unaccompanied children entering the United States.

The state announced plans earlier this year to send gang-prevention troopers to Long Island schools.

MS-13 is also a target of the federal government. President Donald Trump, in a visit to what he referred to as the “blood-stained killing fields” of Long Island, vowed to destroy the gang.

“We will find you, we will arrest you, we will jail you and we will deport you,” he said at the time.