House panel hears testimony from victims of immigrant crime

Greg Nash

Two mothers whose children were killed by illegal immigrants testified before a House subcommittee Tuesday, providing examples of the kind of immigrant crime that has been denounced on the campaign trail by Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Laura Wilkerson, a Texas resident whose son Joshua was tortured and killed by Hermilo Moralez in 2010, testified that the government is teaching illegal immigrants “how to grab a piece of America unlawfully, and at the expense of American families.”

{mosads}Michelle Root, whose daughter Sarah was killed by Edwin Mejia in a drunk driving incident, said police in Omaha, Neb., “made multiple requests to ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] officials for an immigration hold and were rebuffed in their efforts due to the Obama administration guidelines that deemed him not a threat to public safety.”

A judge set Mejia’s bail at $50,000, and he was released after posting a $5,000 bond. Mejia, a Honduran national who entered the United States in 2013, is currently a fugitive on ICE’s most wanted list.

Cruz has made Kate’s Law — a bill to punish illegal re-entry with a five-year sentence, named after Kate Steinle, a San Francisco woman allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant — a major point in his border security platform.

Trump, whose presidential campaign was launched with a controversial speech labeling Mexican immigrants as “rapists” who “bring crime,” has also used Steinle’s story as evidence of the need for tougher border security.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Immigration and Border Security subcommittee, said the administration should pay attention to the testimony the panel heard Tuesday.

“This administration loves to talk about families being separated.” Be, he added, “The administration and the politicians and the preachers are not talking about the families sitting at the table this morning. They are not talking about the separation that comes from burying your child.”

Democrats pushed back on the notion that illegal immigrants are bringing crime to the U.S.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the subcommittee’s ranking member, cited a Wall Street Journal study, saying, “Numerous studies going back more than a century have shown that immigrants, regardless of nationality or legal status, are less likely than the legal population to commit violent crimes or to be incarcerated.”

Lofgren expressed concern at the presence of another subcommittee witness, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, who she said was found by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014 to have engaged in racial profiling.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said, “If you’ve got grey hair and you’ve enforced the law, you have profiled. And you by golly better profile. There are lives saved by profiling legitimately, not discriminating against people but being wise to know there are people who you pay attention to and people who you don’t.”

Tags Donald Trump Ted Cruz Trey Gowdy

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