Crime victims tell lawmakers, toughen immigration before saving DACA

Members of Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime, holding pictures of family members they have lost, urged lawmakers to get tough on immigration enforcement before protecting DACA recipients. (Photo by Ariana Bustos/Cronkite News)

Mary Ann Mendoza, whose son was killed by a drunken driver who was in this country illegally, argues that after the border is secure “then, and only then” should DACA renewal be considered. (Photo by Ariana Bustos/Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON – A Mesa woman whose son was killed by an undocumented immigrant in a drunken driving accident was in Washington Tuesday to tell lawmakers that border security and immigration enforcement must come before any “amnesty” bills.

Mary Ann Mendoza, joined by sheriffs from around the country and others who lost a family member to an undocumented immigrant, said at a news conference that before any deal to protect DACA recipients, Congress should beef up border security and fund a border wall.

“Pass Kate’s law (to toughen penalties on repeat border crossers), pass No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, end sanctuary cities and states, increase interior enforcement and secure our borders,” Mendoza said. “Then and only then can we have a discussion about DACA or dreamers.”

The news conference by Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime comes as Congress is grappling with a March 5 deadline for the expiration of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects young immigrants who were brought here illegally as children.

Lawmakers also face a Thursday midnight deadline to pass a budget and keep the government open, negotiations that could be complicated by the fight over DACA.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he would “love to see a shutdown” if Congress does not send him the immigration reform measure he wants.

“If we don’t get rid of these loopholes where killers come into our country and continue to kill … I’d love to see a shutdown,” he said during a White House meeting to discuss the Salvadoran gang, MS-13.

Trump this month released a framework for immigration reform that called for $25 billion for a border wall, an end to the visa lottery and to family-based migration, as well as a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million DACA recipients, also called Dreamers.

-Cronkite News video by Ariana Bustos

But members of Mendoza’s group said Trump’s plan would still give too much to undocumented immigrants.

“We were extremely disappointed by the framework that was set up that basically gives amnesty to anywhere from 1.8 to probably 3 million people,” said Don Rosenberg, president of AVIAC. “And if it ever happens a wall gets built, that leaves all the people in this country that are here illegally and committing crimes and killing people every day still here.”

Mendoza’s son, Mesa Police Sgt. Brandon Mendoza, was on his way home from work early on the morning of May 14, 2014, when he was hit and killed by drunken driver who was in this country illegally.

His death spurred her to help create AVIAC with others who have lost loved ones from crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. Five other members of the group were on hand Tuesday.

“As far as we’re concerned nothing should be done about DACA dreamers or any other person in the country illegally until those issues are taken care of,” Rosenberg said.

Group members were no happier with a bipartisan plan put forward this week by Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Chris Coons, D-Delaware. The plan expands the number of immigrants eligible for DACA and give them a path to citizenship, while calling for increased funding for personnel and technology to secure the border – but excludes funds for any border wall.

“You know, McCain, he’s just irrelevant to me right now,” Mendoza said. “He’s out of touch with reality if he doesn’t think this country needs a secure border, which means a fence, which means a wall.”

Mendoza said politicians in Washington are “stepping over the biggest piece of the puzzle, American victims of illegal alien crimes.”

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