The Corner

National Security & Defense

‘You Should Be for Americans’: Victims of Illegal-Alien Sanctuary Policies Tell Their Stories

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing today featuring family members of Americans killed by illegal aliens. The witnesses told the stories of Danny Oliver, Grant Ronnebeck, Kathryn Steinle, Dennis McCann, and Josh Wilkerson – all dead because federal, state, and local governments have abdicated their responsibility to protect American citizens from foreign criminals.

The anti-borders activists were sensible enough not to disrupt the proceedings, as they have done so often before. Nevertheless, some of the Democrats seem to have taken their cue from Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who a few days ago dismissively referred to Kate Steinle’s killing as “a little thing” (una cosa pequeña). Senators Chuck Schumer and Richard Durbin did not stay to hear the victims’ testimony and only returned after the families had left and the second panel, featuring DHS functionaries, was underway. (Sen. Feinstein did stay, and had met with Ms. Steinle’s father earlier.) Brian McCann, Dennis’s brother, noted this absence diplomatically, telling the remaining senators: “I regret my senator had to leave and couldn’t hear my testimony.”

You can see why Gang-of-Eighters Schumer and Durbin ran away. Each of the families told of tragedies that would not have taken place but for the limitations on immigration enforcement advocated by them (and by their party’s chosen witnesses at the hearing).

McCann called illegal-alien sanctuary laws “a pathetic miscarriage of justice visited upon my family and hundreds of other families across the country.” Steinle’s father noted that “It is unbelievable to see that so many innocent Americans have been killed by undocumented immigrant felons in recent years.” And several family members thanked the Remembrance Project, directed by the indefatigable Maria Espinoza, which for years has been the only forum for people like this to tell their stories of Americans killed because of lax immigration policies.

Perhaps the most powerful testimony came from Laura Wilkerson, whose 18-year-old son Josh was tortured and murdered by an illegal-alien Dreamer from Belize. After describing her son’s agonizing end, she challenged the Senators:

You’re officially notified today there’s a problem when this happens. You can’t deny it any longer. You cannot stand by and ignore our families – our American families. You’re elected by Americans, not any other country. You should be for Americans. … Your silence speaks volumes. You’re either for Americans, or you’re not. …

Sanctuary city policies scream to the criminal element of illegals in this country: “Come to our town USA, we’ll protect you from our terrible policemen. We’ll protect you from these tough American laws” …

I don’t want the sympathy, I want you to do something about it.

The Senate might indeed do something – to make thing worse. Despite some positive provisions, the sanctuary cities bill just introduced by Senator Grassley would effectively codify Obama’s deportation priorities, putting Congress on record as demanding the deportation only of the worst criminal illegal aliens, giving cities a free hand to shield all other illegals. There’s the real danger that those law enforcement agencies (the vast majority) that already comply with all ICE detainers would be exposed to ACLU lawsuits for complying with ICE requests to hold illegal aliens who have not yet been convicted of the crimes specifically listed in the bill’s definition of  ”criminal alien.”

There’s no need for this bill anyway. The Davis-Oliver Act would address the sanctuary city issue but also a number of other serious enforcement problems. It’s not a rush CYA job – it was introduced by Sen. Sessions before the Steinle murder and its companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Gowdy, passed the House Judiciary Committee in March. A Republican leadership worthy of the name would pass it and dare the president to veto it.

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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