As DC Debates DACA, Grant Ronnebeck Family Still Mourns

Grant Ronnebeck was murdered by Apolinar Altamirano, who was in the country illegally. [Photo courtesy Steve Ronnebeck]

Three years ago today Grant Ronnebeck, a young convenience store clerk, was murdered by a man, Apolinar Altamirano, who was in the country illegally. The memory of 21-year- old Grant has not faded, and the pain of his loss has not ended.

Grant’s father Steve has spent the years since Grant’s death fighting fearlessly in his memory for border security and against the reckless government policies that allowed a madman like Altamirano to roam the streets.

Altamirano, age 31, was a DREAMER when he shot Grant as he was counting the change Altamirano had spilled on the counter to pay for his cigarettes at the QuikTrip near Stapley and Broadway, in Mesa, Arizona. Altamirano pulled out a gun and opened fire, killing Grant and the dreams his family had of his bright future.

Steve shared his thoughts on the eve of the anniversary of his son’s brutal murder:

So I sit here reading about the government shutdown…….and all I think about is the 3 yr anniversary of Grant’s murder is Monday!!!!!! And as everyone remembers GRANT WAS MURDERED BY A DACA RECIPIENT!!!!!!!!!!! The monster that executed Grant in cold blood was a dreamer brought here when he was 14!!!!!! I have never once said all illegal immigrants are bad, but a lot of them are CRIMINALS!!!!!! I miss my son every single day, my family has been devastated and ripped apart!

So let me have my say and I’ll take the consequences………without a wall on the southern border and extreme tightening of security, arrests, and deportation of illegal aliens coming across the southern border, DACA is an issue that can be dealt with in March or even later in the year. YES DACA IS IMPORTANT!!!!!!!!!!! But again we need to stop the flow and importation of drugs, humans, illegal goods, and CRIMINALS AND PRIOR CONVICTED FELONS that have been previously deported.

So very tired of the Democrats blaming Trump for their unconstitutional agenda to take back control of the government. WE NEED TO DRAIN THE SWAMP! Stop the corruption!!!!!

My final point and I’ll shut up…….. ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT CRIMINALS ARE NOT PROTECTED BY THE CONSTITUTION, we cannot illegally immigrate to any other country in the world and be afforded any protection or rights under thier country’s constitution or laws!!!!!!!!!! Grants death was preventable, he should be here!!! Executed by a criminal illegal alien who was protected by an unconstitutional and illegal executive action written by an unconstitutional, corrupt, and criminal President Obama!!!!!!!!

Thanks for letting me Rant I’m sorry if I have offended anyone, I miss my son.

Altamirano, a citizen of Mexico, was charged with burglary in 2012, but the Maricopa County Attorney’s office allowed him to plead guilty to an amended charge of facilitation to commit burglary and he was placed on probation for two years. A judge had ordered notification of U.S. immigration officials, and Altamirano was given bond by federal immigration authorities after pleading guilty to the lesser charge. On May 28, 2014, an Order of Discharge from Probation – Misdemeanor Designation was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court for Altamirano.

Altamirano was arrested for the murder of Grant. He was charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery, burglary, unlawful flight and misconduct involving weapons because he is a prohibited possessor. To this date, he has not faced justice. Altamirano remains in jail, and Grant’s family remains in limbo.

Insult to injury

Last year, Steve watched as Sen. Steve Smith pleaded with his fellow lawmakers to pass Grant’s Law.

Smith’s bill, SB1279, required “courts to sentence persons convicted of a misdemeanor or felony to the maximum term of imprisonment or full presumptive sentence if it is determined that a U.S. immigration offense was an aggravating factor and makes such persons ineligible for probation, suspension of sentence, community supervision, commutation or release on any basis until the sentence imposed is served,” according to the legislative overview.

Republican senators, Bob Worsley, Frank Pratt, and Kate Brophy McGee voted against the bill.

“I said at least have the common courtesy to tell these people; these family members, why you’re not giving justice to their families. Stand up and explain their vote. Do you know how many explained their vote? Zero,” said Smith in an interview on the James T. Harris show.

Smith had called on the senators to explain their votes to Steve, who was watching in the gallery above the Senate floor along with the families of others who were killed by illegal aliens. The three senators refused to look at the families and the police officers who had joined them in support.

“I think it is just sad that we have a bill that will directly help families in our state and in our country, but because of one political pressure or another, that I haven’t heard yet, you’re going to go ahead and defeat this bill,” Smith said to the senators. “If that sits well in your conscience, let it sit well.”

After the floor debate, Worsley and Brophy McGee had the gall to complain to the press about Smith’s comments. Apparently, they were made to feel uncomfortable.

Still hope for change

In a video published a few months after that floor debate, Steve recounts the day of Grant’s murder and discusses other victims of criminal illegal aliens. “No parent wants their child to be remembered for what happened to them so I don’t think I want him remembered for that,” said Steve referring to Grant’s murder, “but I’m hoping that he can be remembered for the for the smile. For all the people’s lives that he made better; whether it be for two minutes at work; whether it be his brother that he impacted for the rest of his life; for me who he impacted the rest of my life. I want him to be remembered as the kind heart and the smile and just the good person he was and then secondarily I’d like him to be remembered for getting the change that will prevent somebody else from having to go through what me and my family had to go through.”

For his part, Sen. Smith knows that trying to pass the bill this year is fruitless. Worsley, Pratt, and Brophy McGee will never budge on the bill – especially one that the chamber of commerce finds uncomfortable. After all, any bills related to illegal immigration might dry up the cheap labor some of the more powerful chamber members’ thrive on.

It being an election year, the Worsley, Pratt, and Brophy McGee types need all the help they can get from the deep-pocketed chamber types.

Smith, now a candidate in the Congressional District 1 seat, hopes to unseat Rep. Tom O’Halleran, a staunch open borders advocate. Until Mr. Smith goes to Washington, he is urging senators Flake and McCain to support Rep. Andy Biggs’ federal version of Grant’s Law.

In January 2017, Biggs (AZ-05) introduced Grant’s Law to end the “catch and release” of illegal immigrants who have been arrested for deportable crimes.

Arizona Republic columnist, Laurie Roberts wrote shortly after the bill was introduced:

Grant Ronnebeck was killed on Day 745 of Altamirano’s wait for a deportation hearing.

Since then, Ronnebeck’s father, Steve, has been the one to wait, hoping that the sacrifice of his son might prompt our leaders to finally do something to fix this insanity.

“Biggs’ predecessor, then-Rep. Matt Salmon, tried. Shortly after Ronnebeck’s death, he introduced Grant’s Law in Congress, proposing to end the “catch and release” policy that allows the Altamiranos of the world to walk free. It went nowhere.

Now it is left to Biggs to try again.

To figure out a way to hold and more quickly deport serious criminals who aren’t supposed to be here in the first place.

It just shouldn’t be controversial to get these guys off the streets — if not when they’re arrested then at least when they’re convicted..

Yet it’s been two years and still our leaders have done nothing about the inescapable, uncomfortable outrageous fact that the only way to get Apolinar Altamirano off the streets was over Grant Ronnebeck’s dead body.

After Biggs’ bill passed he said he thought it would bring an “improvement in public safety because all communities around the country will have a measure of safety. If somebody is a known criminal, for instance, we’re going to take them off the street.”

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, issued a statement condemning the bill. “The Republicans can attempt to mask these bills as necessary measures for our ‘public safety,’ but law enforcement officials all across the country agree that the bills will not do anything to protect individuals.”

Grijalva did not offer his own solutions or proof for his claim. Grijalva relies on emotion rather than facts to defend his open border policies and rejection of any immigration reform.

Facts can be inconvenient

A very controversial study was released this month that found:

■ Based on data from 1985 to 2017, undocumented immigrants are at least 142% more likely to be convicted of crime than other Arizonans.

■ Undocumented immigrants tend to commit more serious crimes and serve 10.5% longer sentences than do U.S. citizens.

■ Undocumented immigrants are 163% more likely to be convicted of 1st degree murder than are U.S. citizens, 168% more likely to be convicted of 2nd degree murder, and 189.6% more likely to be convicted of manslaughter. Those three categories and negligent homicide added up to 987 convictions.

■ Undocumented immigrants are also much more likely to commit sexual offenses against minors, sexual assault, DUI, and armed robbery.

■ Young convicts are especially likely to be undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants born after June 15, 1981 are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). While undocumented immigrants from 15 to 35 years of age make up a little over two percent of the Arizona population, they make up almost 8% of the prison population. These immigrants also tend to commit more serious crimes.

■ Undocumented immigrant criminals are 45.4% more likely than other criminals to have been gang members, and 133% more likely to receive sentencing enhancements for being classified as dangerous.

■ These numbers may give an artificially low estimate of the share of crime committed by undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants may commit many of their crimes against each other, and their victims may be afraid of calling the police or testifying at trial because of their undocumented status.

■ While undocumented immigrants are more likely to be convicted of crimes, they also exhibit extremely low recidivism and criminal history rates. Among criminals who are U.S. citizens, a small subset keeps going in and out of prison. Among undocumented immigrants, a much larger proportion go to prison once or twice and then never return to prison. 24.8% of U.S. citizens were admitted five or more times in the Arizona Department of Corrections, but that same number is only 2.95% for undocumented immigrants. The evidence suggests that these individuals leave Arizona after being incarcerated.

■ If undocumented immigrants committed crime nationally as they do in Arizona, in 2016 they would have been responsible for over 1,000 more murders, 5,200 rapes, 8,900 robberies, 25,300 aggravated assaults, and 26,900 burglaries.

■ For the entire 1985 to 2017 period, undocumented immigrants were 142% more likely to be convicted. A useful comparison can be made to Hispanics. In 2014, Hispanics accounted for about 37.6% of those in prison and about 28.8% of the Arizona population. That means their incarceration rate exceeded the overall state imprisonment rate by about 31%.

■ In comparison, documented immigrants (Legal Permanent Residents) were extremely law-abiding. They made up only 1.5% of the prison population in 2014, while a rough estimate indicates that their share of the state’s population is about 3.9%. This suggests that lumping together documented and undocumented immigrants provides a very misleading image of both groups.

While Lott’s study has been questioned, the National Review reported:

“About 240 illegal aliens were imprisoned for homicide-related offenses. In 2009 there were 3,484 total inmates incarcerated in Arizona state prisons for homicide and related offenses (first degree murder, second degree murder, murder (old code), manslaughter, and negligent homicide). Removing the estimated 240 illegal aliens from that total leaves us with 3,244 citizens and legal residents imprisoned for homicide-related offenses out of a total population of approximately 6.3 million residents. The Pew Research Center estimates that approximately 350,000 illegal immigrants lived in Arizona in 2009. That leaves approximately 6 million citizens and legal residents in Arizona. This yields a rate of 68.57 illegal aliens imprisoned for homicide offenses per 100,000 illegal aliens in Arizona, and 54.06 citizens and legal residents imprisoned for homicide offenses per 100,000 citizens and legal residents in Arizona.

Numbers don’t tell the story

Grant Ronnebeck and his family are not statistics. And statistics, whether you buy them or not, do not tell the whole story. Grant’s dad has spent the last three years telling us his, and for that we should all be grateful.

On this day the only numbers that matter are the number of tears shed for Grant by those who knew and loved him. They are too numerous to count and too numerous to ignore.

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