NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - A mom whose daughter was killed by MS-13 is begging Congress to step up the war on gangs.
"They're kids killing kids -- that needs to be stopped," Evelyn Rodriguez told lawmakers. She is the mother of Kayla Cuevas, 16, who was killed last year by alleged MS-13 gang members. She along with federal and local law enforcement testified at a gang hearing in Central Islip in front of Rep. Peter King and Rep. Kathleen Rice.
"It's essential we have a full-scale national, state and local effort to destroy and end the terrorism, the tyranny of MS-13," King said. "In many ways they've turned immigrant communities into a killing field."
Officials focused on the dangerous gang and how its members are coming to the United States. Stats show close to 1,000 active members are on Long Island, many of them unaccompanied minors.
"Within the last few years, more than 5,000 unaccompanied alien children from the Northern Triangle countries have resettled in Long Island," Special Agent Angel Melendez of the Homeland Security Department testified. The Northern Triangle refers to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. He said the gang preys on vulnerable immigrant children. Top police officials suggested immigrants need more guidance and resources to succeed once they are in the United States.
"We don't provide that support to these children, MS-13 will," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said.
Recruitment takes place inside schools. Cuevas was bullied for two years before she was killed. Rodriguez said nothing was done.
"We just need more support, more funding for our kids to make sure that they have places to go after school instead of being lured someplace else," Rodriguez said.
Law enforcement is asking for additional funding and more U.S. attorneys to prosecute the growing number of cases. King said everyone needs to work together.