Last year, I met Ray Tranchant, an Angel Dad whose 16-year-old daughter Tessa and her best friend Ali were killed in Virginia Beach by illegal alien Alfredo Ramos. Ten years ago, Tessa and Ali died immediately when Ramos rear-ended their vehicle with his car, traveling at 70 mph, as the teens waited for a red light to change.
There were no skid marks, indicating there was no braking attempt, and Ramos crashed into the teens with full impact. Ramos, unhurt, had three priors for public intoxication, and one each for DUI and identity theft. As Tranchant told me, “They were wonderful girls with bright futures who had done nothing wrong.”
Pursuant to a 2005 Virginia Beach Policy Department order that established sanctuary standing, local law enforcement didn’t ask Ramos about his immigration status, and therefore didn’t initiate removal proceedings. Officials’ refusal to obey immigration laws that mandate cooperation with the federal government regarding known criminal aliens resulted in the death of two young women. Ramos was sentenced to 40 years, 24 to serve, followed by deportation, and 16 more years if he re-enters the U.S.
During the years that have passed since this tragedy, the sanctuary city mess has grown dramatically worse as more municipalities have incomprehensibly embraced the life-threatening policy. Estimates peg the sanctuary cities total between 300 and 500. A decade after the senseless deaths of Tessa and Ali, Virginia Beach remains on the list.
Mayors, backed into a corner because President Trump has vowed to defund their cities of federal dollars, attempt to defend themselves with outlandish statements. All incredulously claim that sanctuary cities are safer than non-sanctuaries, that the term has no universally agreed-upon definition, and that they routinely comply with immigration laws, even though it’s painfully obvious that they don’t. Federal statutes are clear – aiding, abetting, harboring and encouraging an illegal alien is a felony punishable by a prison sentence and/or fines. Not only should the Virginia Beach Police Department chief and the mayor have been held culpable under federal law, Ramos’ employer, a Mexican restaurant, should have been too.
Asked last month about the Virginia Beach failure to protect his daughter and her friend, Tranchant said that when a city apprehends a non-English speaking foreign national who has perpetrated a criminal act, and then takes him to jail, calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement to request a background check would be easy. Tranchant concluded: “I just can’t, for the life of me, figure that out.”
Americans are as bewildered as Tranchant. According to a Harvard-Harris poll conducted among near-equal numbers of registered Republicans and Democrats, 80 percent of likely voters agree that local authorities should comply with the law and report the illegal immigrants they encounter to federal agents. Little wonder Americans prefer enforcement. According to ICE data, between January 1 and September 30, 2014, sanctuaries released 9,295 alien offenders, more than half of which had felony charges or convictions; 2,320 were re-arrested for new crimes after their release.
Some sanctuary cities, with others likely to follow, have sued the Trump administration over its threat to withhold federal grant money. Seattle Mayor Ed Walsh who charged President Trump with waging a war on cities said in his announcement that he prioritizes safety. But a recent ICE Pacific Northwest Region newsletter revealed that during a three-week period, it arrested 84 criminal aliens, including 19 in Walsh’s King County Seattle.
Quoting Tranchant on sanctuary advocacy: “It doesn’t make any sense.”
Joe Guzzardi is a Senior Writing Fellow with Californians for Population Stabilization. Contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.