At around 6 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2010, Don Rosenberg got the call that no parent ever wants to receive — a call that has haunted him ever since: His 25-year-old son had been killed in a car accident.
Drew Rosenberg, a second-year law student in San Francisco, was driving home from school on his motorcycle when a driver traveling the wrong way on a one-way street struck him after making a hasty left turn without using his turn signal.
“Do you have any idea of the economic disaster you’ve created for low-income and poor workers — all to protect criminals? Could you explain to me why you would do that?” said this anguished father.
Eyewitnesses later reported the initial crash wasn’t fatal in and of itself. Drew Rosenberg was killed when, instead of stopping, the driver accelerated and drove the vehicle over the student’s abdomen before his displaced helmet became wedged in one of the tires. So the driver backed up once again over the body before driving forward over it for a third time in his attempt to flee the scene. The driver was only stopped when another driver exited his own car and bravely stood in front of him. But the car had stopped with one of its tires on top of Drew Rosenberg’s abdomen — and it took five men to lift the car off his body.
A father’s horror over what happened to his son further intensified when it emerged that the driver, Roberto Galo, was not only an unlicensed driver, but also in the United States illegally. In one fateful day, the Rosenberg family became victims to the policies championed by President Obama — and the policies that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has promised to support. These policies grant leniency to illegal immigrants and fail to deport them once they’re caught, even after they have committed crimes other than illegal entry.
If he ever gets the chance to speak face-to-face to Obama, Rosenberg knows exactly what he would say to him.
“I would have said, ‘Do you have any idea of how many people have been killed because of you? Do you have any idea how much blood is on your hands?'” Rosenberg told LifeZette. ‘”Do you have any idea of the economic disaster you’ve created for low-income and poor workers — all to protect criminals? Could you explain to me why you would do that?'”
Throughout his research into the prevalence of deaths due to unlicensed drivers and illegal immigrants, Rosenberg estimates that his son was one of 3,000 people in 2010 alone who were killed by illegal immigrant drivers — and one of 7,000 people who die each year at the hands of unlicensed drivers.
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Although Rosenberg initially started his campaign website “Unlicensed to Kill” to bring attention to the problem of unlicensed driving in the United States, the focus shifted to include enforcing U.S. immigration laws after his demoralizing experience in seeking justice for his son through the legal system.
At every step of the way, Rosenberg, his wife, and his two remaining children felt that the lawyers, officials, and judges in California were doing everything in their power to make things difficult for them while lessening Galo’s crimes and softening the consequences for his actions — as though they were trying to protect him. Eventually Galo’s charges of vehicular homicide were reduced to vehicular manslaughter. He served only 43 days in jail and was not deported after his release from prison.
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“And I found this all over the place. It’s a game — it’s not funny, but it’s a game — it’s a game to protect [these people], and so much of the judiciary does this,” Rosenberg said. “They want to protect these people at all costs. They don’t care who they are. They don’t care what they’ve done. They just want to protect.”
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But Rosenberg was stunned when advisers told him to let his son’s murder remain a “public safety issue,” and not turn it into an “immigration issue.” His case wouldn’t go anywhere, they said, if he made it about illegal immigration.
“About a year in, I was talking to them and I said, ‘You know, no one’s listening anyway. I’m now making it an immigration issue because that’s what it is,'” Rosenberg said. “This is not something that just happens. This isn’t, ‘a meteor fell from the sky and managed to get through a one-inch opening in your awning and killed your child.’ This is going on every single day, and no one will talk about it.”
“[Obama] refuses to address the issue because he can’t address the issue. If he had said to any of us the littlest of ‘sorries for your loss,’ he would be admitting now that he knows people are dying because of this.”
“If somebody illegal commits a crime — unless it’s heinous murder, or a huge drug charge … other than those two — maybe three — things, they’re not punished,” Rosenberg said. “There has to be nothing on their record that shows they’ve broken the law. So first, dumb it down as much as you can. If you can’t get it below a certain level, then you do whatever you can to kill the case.”
Eventually, Rosenberg’s persistence and tenacity finally paid off and Galo was deported back to his native Honduras in 2012. But Rosenberg’s fight is nowhere near finished, and his bitterness against Obama and the public policies that led to his son’s death remains.
“[Obama] refuses to address the issue because he can’t address the issue. If he had said to any of us the littlest of ‘sorries for your loss,’ he would be admitting now that he knows people are dying because of this,” Rosenberg said. “So he just throws them away. He doesn’t want to listen to us.”
Although he describes himself as a “lifelong liberal,” Rosenberg dreads the possibility of a Clinton presidency, as well as the possibility of the Democratic Party gaining ground in the House and Senate this election year. If those events happen, he knows nothing will be done to enforce U.S. immigration laws and address the preventable crimes and murders and killings that occur in this country every single day. Open borders would reign and universal amnesty would erase the consequences of illegal immigrants’ criminal entries, Rosenberg said.
And even more parents would personally feel his grief.
“And basically all I could say to people next time this happens is, ‘Well, you were told, but you should have looked on your own. You should have done a little investigating. Once [Donald] Trump started talking about [illegal immigration], you can hate him all you want, but he’s talking about an issue, and literally tens of thousands of people are showing up on that issue, and millions of people on that issue have decided to vote for him,'” Rosenberg said. “That was his key issue, so at the very least, that put you in a position to say, ‘OK, I gotta know something about this.’ So I would say, ‘You know what? There’s nothing to say. It’s too late. It’s done. You let them in. They’re not leaving. More are coming.'”
But if Trump is elected and the Republican Party maintains its control over the House and Senate — there could be hope, Rosenberg said.
“All I know is that if [Trump] got elected, and he had the Congress, he doesn’t really have to do anything,” Rosenberg said. “All he’d have to do is follow the law of the land that exists, and he has to fight for more deportation, more immigration judges, and he has to tell [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], ‘OK, you can go back to doing your jobs and find some more money to hire more of them.’ And it’s OK, it might take 10 years, but the problem’s solved.”
And far fewer parents would get that dreaded phone call and feel the Rosenberg family’s grief.