PBS Documentary To Examine MS-13 And Politicians’ Use Of The Tragedies


The PBS program Frontline will air on Tuesday, February 13, at 10 p.m. a documentary spotlighting gangs in Suffolk County and how politicians are making use of the crimes committed by MS-13 for their own ends.

Locally, the documentary, “The Gang Crackdown,” will be shown on WNET Channel 13. The first quarter of the program will focus on the killing of two teenaged girls and four young men in the Brentwood/Central Islip area. The rest will focus on the impact on the Latino immigrant community of the police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) crackdown that has been terrifying the immigrant community ever since.

“The Gang Crackdown” will provide the perspectives of local law enforcement, victims’ family members, the immigrant community and advocates like Walter Barrientos, Serge Argueta, and myself on the growth and suppression of MS-13. I have not yet seen the program, but I know that the Frontline crew spent months investigating what is happening in Suffolk County and examining how the likes of Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions are using the ongoing tragedy there for their own agendas.

I was told by one of the reporters at Frontline that the documentary will go into one of the most ignored aspects of the Suffolk situation: young people wrongly accused of gang involvement. It will also examine the impact of the collusion between local police and ICE on immigrant perceptions of law enforcement.

I hope that this film gives a fuller understanding of what is happening in Brentwood and Central Islip, as opposed to the ignorant comparisons in the media of those villages to Central American cities under the control of MS-13. There are real dangers from MS-13, but it is under pressure and on the run.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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