Mary Ann Mendoza: Victims Of Sanctuary Policies Deserve A Voice

Mary Ann Mendoza's son, Sgt Brandon Mendoza, was killed on May 12, 2014 in a violent head on collision. He was killed by a man illegally in the country, who was driving drunk and high on meth.

Congress should immediately act on President Trump’s call to let families hold sanctuary cities responsible when their reckless policies cause Americans to die at the hands of illegal aliens.

I was in the gallery for the State of the Union. I was honored to be there, and as a mother whose son was killed by an illegal alien, I was happy to hear the President devote part of his address to the victims of illegal alien crime. But I was also there in solidarity with another American who lost a loved one to what are euphemistically termed “sanctuary” policies.

One of the President’s special guests, Jody Jones, joined the ranks of “angel families” in December 2018, when a twice-deported illegal alien with a lengthy and violent criminal record shot his brother Rocky eight times, killing him. Rocky’s daughter and three more of his brothers also joined our unhappy fraternity that day.

As is so often the case, they didn’t have to experience this pain. Rocky’s murderer was arrested just days before going on the rampage that left Rocky and another man dead, but was released from jail under California’s “sanctuary state” policy. Any sensible government would have held him in custody until federal agents arrived to remove him from the country.

Unfortunately for the Jones family, they didn’t live under a sensible government. They lived in California. So Rocky’s killer was let out of jail. Instead of being deported, he died in a high-speed pursuit after a gun battle with police.

It’s a dramatic example, but it’s essentially the same story I’ve heard countless times from grieving families since I became an angel mother myself in 2014. My son, Brandon, a Mesa, Arizona police officer, was killed by a driver who was speeding the wrong way down the highway while high on methamphetamine and with a blood-alcohol content three times the legal limit. Like Rocky’s murderer, the man who killed my son was in the country illegally, and had been arrested many times before.

In California and nine other states — as well as dozens of cities and counties scattered around the country — police and other public officials are explicitly prohibited from reporting arrestees who are in the country illegally to federal law enforcement. They are even banned from merely holding the prisoners for a day or two in response to lawful requests from ICE agents who have identified criminal illegal aliens on their own.

There is no reason why families like Jody’s and mine should not be able to sue jurisdictions whose “sanctuary” policies are directly responsible for the deaths of our loved ones. That’s why I was ecstatic when President Trump endorsed a bill sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis, the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act.

I testified in support of that legislation at a Senate hearing, and later spoke with Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf about the dangers of sanctuary policies, so it’s immensely gratifying to receive an endorsement from the highest office in the land.

State and local politicians enthusiastically adopt “sanctuary” policies in large part as an act of political spite. They get to burnish their credibility among the left-wing activist class without paying a dollar out of their public coffers. Other people bear the cost. American citizens like Jody and I pay a price. Our loved ones paid the ultimate one.

That state of affairs can’t continue. Congress must make “sanctuary” jurisdictions take responsibility for the dire consequences of their political gamesmanship. This law will make it possible for Americans to sue local governments when they or their families are the victims of murder, rape, or other felonies committed by illegal aliens who have been given “sanctuary.”

This way, politicians will finally have some skin in the game. When citizens suffer, so will the politicians’ budgets. When our families grieve, that grief will be formally entered into the public record.

When the incentives change, so will the policies. Decency and common sense already demand that elected officials do their utmost to prevent crime and protect the citizens they represent. It’s sad that the threat of lawsuits may be necessary to convince some of them to stop putting illegal immigrants’ lawbreaking over public safety.

It’s up to Congress to do the right thing. Too many state and local politicians have proven they won’t.

Mary Ann Mendoza is an Angel Mom and is a member of the Donald J. Trump for President Inc. advisory board.