WASHINGTON – Advocates for Victims of Alien Crime, a group whose family members have died in incidents involving illegal immigrants, launched last week at the National Press Club, vowing to influence public policy to ensure immigration laws are enforced.
“The fact that we have to convince so many in the media that we, who have lost loved ones, are the true victims, instead of those who snuck into the country illegally, is journalistic bankruptcy,” AVIAC co-founder Don Rosenburg said during the event.
Rosenburg’s son, Drew, was killed on his motorcycle in 2010, when an unlicensed illegal immigrant hit him with a car. According to Rosenburg, the driver, Roberto Galo, accelerated and drove over his son’s body, backed up and drove over him again and then drove over him a third time when attempting to flee the scene. He eventually stopped with the car’s wheel resting Drew’s abdomen, Rosenberg said.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who appeared at AVIAC’s launch, argued that without the rule of law, “we descend into the third world.”
“Every one of those lives that have been snuffed out by illegal aliens is a preventable death,” he said, citing a 2008 incident in Cottonwood, Minn., in which an illegal immigrant failed to stop at a stop sign while driving a van, careened into a school bus and killed four students. The driver, Alianiss Nunez Morales, was charged with homicide.
Lawmakers recounted a number of similar incidents last week as President Trump met with various victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants at the White House. The president spoke of alien criminals “roaming free” and threatening American citizens.
Many experts have drawn attention to the fact there is little evidence to show that immigrants, either illegal or legal, are more likely to commit crimes than the general population. In fact, statistics from the Cato Institute earlier this year showed that both documented and undocumented immigrants are incarcerated at rates lower than native U.S. citizens.
Randy Capps, U.S. director of research at the Migration Policy Institute, in an interview last week said that there is little argument against the need to deport violent criminal offenders, but the debate arises over the deportation of immigrants who have committed less serious crimes.
“Where it’s more questionable is whether the whole unauthorized population of 11 million, including many people who have committed much less serious crimes, should be painted with the same brush with people who committed violent crimes,” Capps said. “I don’t think they should be. I think there’s a very big difference between driving without a license and then, in turn, drunk driving, assault and then murder. I think there’s a whole spectrum.”
AVIAC has stated that it will serve as a resource for victims of all illegal immigrant crime, ranging from assault and rape to minor theft. The group has also committed to working with elected officials to ensure that current immigration laws on the books are enforced, and that the group’s voice is heard when policymakers are considering any new legislation.
Capps said the issue of illegal immigrants committing crimes against citizens is nothing new, but the current administration is drawing much more attention to the topic while also drawing a harder line on enforcement. The Obama administration, he said, set the deportation threshold at drunk driving or crimes similar in weight, but minor offenses, like driving without a valid driver’s license, were not considered deportable. That attitude has shifted under the Trump administration, he said.
“This administration is drawing the line in a different place than the Obama administration did, and by drawing that line differently, they are encompassing a much larger group of people as targets for deportation,” he said.