A conservative congressman says the murder of a San Francisco woman by an illegal immigrant deported five times is a microcosm of the border security dereliction of the Obama administration and liberal city leaders choosing to reward criminal behavior.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, also addressed the fierce debate within the Republican presidential field, taking care to avoid characterizing any candidate but leaving no doubt what he thinks the GOP’s policy position ought to be.
The immigration debate took on a more personal dimension over Independence Day weekend, as 32-year-old Kate Steinle was randomly murdered by 45-year-old Juan Francisco Lopex-Sanchez. The killer, who has since confessed, has been convicted of seven felonies and deported five separate times.
Gohmert says similar stories have played out far too often as the Obama administration effectively waves illegals across the border.
“It’s very easy to explain when you have a president who does not believe in the rule of law, who has pandered to people who are illegally in the country. All we can figure is he thinks that if they can just get people who are illegally the right to vote before they understand the responsibilities of trying to keep a democratic republic, then it will give the Democrats all power for all time,” said Gohmert.
According to Gohmert, the Steinle murder is hardly an isolated incident. He says the House Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member, received very disturbing numbers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the extent of violent crimes committed by illegal immigrants in Fiscal Year 2014 alone.
“These individuals have been convicted of 79,059 crimes, including 175 homicides, 373 sexual assaults, 186, kidnappings (and) 14,014 impaired driving offenses. It just goes on and on. This is making America less safe,” he said, noting both the federal government and city governments need to stop rewarding criminals.
“If the president’s going to protect America, if our city leaders are going to protect America, the cities can’t be this haven for people who broke the law and would kill a beautiful young lady like we had in San Francisco. And the federal government has got to stop encouraging illegal immigration,” said Gohmert.
The congressman says the Steinle murder struck close to home for him and he says the policy of San Francisco and other “sanctuary cities” needs to be revisited right away.
“Having three daughters, I’m particularly sensitive to these things, but to have her shot so senselessly, randomly, right there in front of her parents would never have happened if San Francisco were not a city that just welcomed people who violated our immigration laws. It is a sanctuary city,” said Gohmert, meaning San Francisco and other cities have laws refusing to hold people whose only known offense is coming to the U.S. illegally.
Lopez-Sanchez has seven felonies on his record. San Francisco and the federal government are now engaged in a blame game over which is responsible for the killer being loose in the first place. The federal government asserts Lopez-Sanchez was in custody and about to be deported for a sixth time when he was handed over to the city to face a drug charge and should never have been released when those charges were dropped. San Francisco officials say it was the federal government’s job to have a warrant ready to go when the drug case concluded.
Gohmert says illegal aliens create trouble for law-abiding citizens, even when there is no violent crime involved and he contends a recent account from a teenage constituent is a perfect example.
“She and her single mom were trying to make ends meet. An illegal alien hit her car. He had no driver’s license, no insurance. He was allowed to drive off in his car. Hers was totaled. It just made things crazy for these poor girls. It’s just outrageous that this president would not be more sympathetic to the plight of Americans dealing with crime in America,” he said.
Just as maddening to Gohmert as what he sees as the Obama administration refusing to enforce immigration law is the president’s insistence that border security is operating at record efficiency.
“It may just be because out president doesn’t know enough about our history. I’m sure they didn’t teach it in Indonesia, but the fact is when he says nobody has done more to secure the border than I have, or words to that effect, it’s simply not true,” said Gohmert.
The congressman says the border was far more secure after Woodrow Wilson (not a favorite of Gohmert’s) effectively sealed the border after Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa conducted numerous murderous raids into the United States. On Wilson’s orders, thousands of forces clamped down on the southern border.
“The border was secure. Nobody came in unless we wanted them to,” said Gohmert.
“This president could do more. Of course, you remember (former Homeland Security Secretary) Janet Napolitano just announced one day, ‘Hey, the four billion dollars or so that was appropriated by Congress for virtual fence? I’m not going to do that. I’m going to spend the money elsewhere.’ This administration not only encourages people to violate our immigration law but it violates the laws regularly themselves,” he said.
The killing of Kate Steinle poured rhetorical gasoline onto an already combustible debate within the 2016 Republican presidential field over the issue of illegal immigration.
Billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump immediate stirred the pot in announcing his White House bid.
“[Mexico is] sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some I assume are good people,” said Trump on June 16.
Several other GOP hopefuls have denounced Trump both for his language and for his alleged inaccuracy.
“He’s doing this to inflame and to incite and to draw attention, which seems to be his organizing principle of his campaign,” said former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.). “He doesn’t represent the Republican Party or its values.”
Gohmert is not wading into the back and forth between candidates but he says he trusts the assessment of the U.S. Border Patrol and its assessment is sobering.
“Many of them have told me there is not a single mile of the U.S.-Mexico border that is not under the auspices of some drug lord. And you don’t cross that border into the United States without permission from that drug lord. If you do, they’ll find you in the United States and kill you,” said Gohmert, who adds that many illegals come across and claim they are refugees from deadly gang violence in their home countries.
After a brief interrogation, it is usually discovered that gangs are not the reason for their illegal migration but the means for shuttling them across the border.
The congressman says the proper approach for Republicans should be obvious. First, he says there should be nothing but admiration for Hispanic families who come here legally, since they value the intact family as high as this country did in the past.
“It’s a generalization but it’s a pretty good generalization that Hispanics love God, are devoted to God, love family, are devoted to family and they have a hard work ethic. Those are the kind of things that made America great. We need more of that. We need more of what the Hispanic can bring before we co-opt it and teach them other ways,” said Gohmert.
However, he says that admiration has to be tempered by a strict adherence to the law.
“They have to come in legally. To just disregard the rule of the law makes us like the countries in central America or Mexico that they’re fleeing,” he said.
Opposition to legal status or even a pathway to citizenship for those illegally in the U.S. has long been described as unrealistic and now Republicans and Democrats accuse that position of being hateful or even racist. Gohmert flatly rejects the label.
“It’s ridiculous to say it’s racist if you want people who commit crimes to be punished for those crimes. Having been a former felony judge, many times people accused me of being mean, but I followed the law. I was fair across the board, and that’s what we have to do. It’s part of the price of maintaining this democratic republic, as (Benjamin) Franklin said, if we want to keep it,” said Gohmert.