Trump gathered families of victims of crimes committed by illegal aliens at a gripping rally held at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, to highlight two bills that face a final vote in the House of Representatives before moving on to the Senate.
The House will vote Thursday on the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act and Kate’s Law, two bills that would crack down on sanctuary cities for illegal aliens, and toughen penalties against criminal aliens.
Inside the White House on Wednesday, Trump brought a number of families into the Cabinet Room to briefly discuss their experiences of losing a loved one at the hands of illegal immigrants, many of whom should have been deported and were simply set free by U.S. authorities.
LifeZette was allowed to attend the limited press event, where family members of victims recounted their horrifying experiences of learning their loved ones had been shot by gang members, killed by a drunk driver, or even set on fire.
There was Jamiel Shaw Sr. of California, whose son, Jamiel Jr., was killed as part of a gang initiation in 2008. Shaw told Trump and journalists in the Cabinet Room that the suspect was arrested in November 2007 but given a four-month early release.
On March 1, 2008, the illegal alien shot and killed Jamiel Jr. within 24 hours of release. Shaw said there was a deportation hold on the suspect in 2008, but local authorities released him.
There was Juan Piña of California, who said his daughter was raped and killed, in 1987, by an illegal alien who later tried to kidnap a 12-year-old girl. Piña urged lawmakers to approve the laws and to put American citizens first when they consider their vote.
A more recent case was one addressed by Michelle Wilson-Root, 48, whose daughter, Sarah Root, 21, of Iowa, was killed last year by an undocumented alien who was driving drunk.
Wilson-Root’s face showed the pain of the loss as she spoke about Sarah. In January 2016, Sarah Root was driving about in Omaha, Nebraska, celebrating her graduation from Bellevue University, according to USA Today.
Her Oldsmobile SUV was hit by a vehicle driven by Eswin G. Mejia, an illegal Honduran immigrant who had a 0.241 blood-alcohol level.
“I want some action. If this had been done years ago, my son would still be here.”
Meija was released after he made a $50,000 bail by posting $5,000. He remains a fugitive, according to USA Today. Mejia’s bail itself was an oddity; he had skipped court appearances before.
There was also Julie Golvach of Texas, whose son, Spencer, was shot by an illegal alien, Victor Reyes, in January 2015. Reyes had been removed from the United States four times between 2003 and 2010, according to the Texas Tribune, and was known for a history of violence.
No one knows why Reyes came to the Houston metro area to go on a shooting spree, according to the Tribune. He killed Spencer, a guitar-shop owner at 25, and a man named Juan Garcia. Reyes also wounded three others before a deputy sheriff killed him.
“We’ve lost everything. He was my only child,” said Golvach, her voice cracking. “I want some action. If this had been done years ago, my son would still be here.”
It’s these stories Trump, who made cracking down on illegal-immigrant crime a key pledge on the campaign trail, sought to highlight before the House votes.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the House Minority Whip, said his party won’t be supporting the sanctuary-city law. But the Maryland lawmaker indicated Democratic leadership will less vigorously oppose Kate’s Law.
“Kate’s Law is a little more complicated,” said Hoyer, according to The Hill. “I’m advising members to look at it carefully and see what their conclusion is.”
The White House touted its record on immigration and border enforcement on Wednesday, noting that there have been 40 percent more enforcement and removal operations compared to the same time frame last year.
The White House also said that arrests of convicted criminal aliens have climbed by nearly 20 percent. Trump wants to hire 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Kate’s Law would increase mandatory minimum prison sentences on deportees who re-enter the United States, and add penalties for those convicted of non-immigration crimes. It is named for Kate Steinle, who was killed in San Francisco on July 1, 2015, by an undocumented resident who had been deported five times. San Francisco is a sanctuary city for illegal aliens.
The “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act” would withhold certain federal grants from “sanctuary” states and localities that refuse to cooperate with ICE on enforcement issues and deportations.