Earlier today President Donald Trump delivered remarks on the importance of immigration reform and border security during an event with victims of illegal alien crime. The Angel Families have lost family members as a result of crimes committed by those engaged in unlawful border crossing.
[Transcript] 2:40 P.M. EDT – THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) We actually spent some time together, so I didn’t mind giving you a second “hello.” Not at all. We’ve known each other a long time. We’ve been friends for a long time, from the beginning of the campaign. And these are special people.
Please, sit down.
Vice President Pence — thank you very much for joining us, Mike. I also want to recognize Acting Director Homan, who’s leaving us. He’s been truly a star. And he’s leaving. He’s retiring. But where is Tom? Is he around here someplace? Tom. Stand up, Tom. (Applause.) Tom has been doing what he’s doing for 34 years and doing it with strength and dedication. And you are really outstanding, and your highly recommended replacement is going to do a great job. We know him well. He’s going to do really great. Thank you, Tom, for those years of service.
I also want to thank the incredible ICE Officers, Border Patrol agents, and law enforcement officials who join us here today. If you could stand up, please. These people are also special people. (Applause.) And they’re good-looking people. Aren’t they? Huh? (Laughter.) Good-looking people. Thank you very much for being here and for the bravery. What you do and what you endure is incredible.
I also want to stand and have the brave men and women from all over government agencies — we have a lot — maybe just raise your hand or stand. But we really appreciate the job that you’ve done, especially during the last year and a half, because I know you’ve really put in a lot of extra. So, please. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
We’re gathered today to hear directly from the American victims of illegal immigration. You know, you hear the other side. You never hear this side. You don’t know what’s going on. These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones — the word “permanently” being the word that you have to think about — “permanently.” They’re not separated for a day or two days. These are permanently separated, because they were killed by criminal illegal aliens.
These are the families the media ignores. They don’t talk about them. Very unfair. We have to look at everybody. But this is a very unfair situation. And I knew that years ago when we would be together out campaigning. And I said, “If this ever happens, we’re never forgetting you.” You know that, Laura, everybody. Incredible people. And they’re dedicated.
These are the stories that Democrats and people that are weak on immigration, they don’t want to discuss, they don’t want to hear, they don’t want to see, they don’t want to talk about. No major networks sent cameras to their homes or displayed the images of their incredible loved ones across the nightly news. They don’t do that. They don’t talk about the death and destruction caused by people that shouldn’t be here, people that will continuously get into trouble and do bad things.
For years, their pain was met with silence; their plight was met with indifference. But no more. I told them three years ago when we were together, from day one — just about day one I would say — I said, “I hear you, I see you, and I will never let you down.” And we’ve been working together, and their loved ones have not died in vain. We all know that.
We call these brave Americans the Angel Families — Angel moms, Angel pops. These are the Angel Families. Your loss will not have been in vain. We will secure our borders. And we will make sure that they’re properly taken care of eventually. The word will get out. We’ve got to have a safe country. We’re going to have a safe country. And your loved ones are going to be playing and will continue to play a big part in it. You know that, right? You know that.
So here are just a few statistics on the human toll of illegal immigration. According to a 2011 government report, the arrests attached to the criminal alien population included an estimated 25,000 people for homicide, 42,000 for robbery, nearly 70,000 for sex offenses, and nearly 15,000 for kidnapping.
In Texas alone, within the last seven years, more than a quarter million criminal aliens have been arrested and charged with over 600,000 criminal offenses. You don’t hear that. I always hear that, “Oh, no, the population is safer than the people that live in the country.” You’ve heard that, fellas. Right? You’ve heard that. I hear it so much. And I say, “Is that possible?” The answer is it’s not true. You hear it’s like they’re better people than what we have — than our citizens. It’s not true.
In 2016, more than 15,000 Americans died from a heroin overdose. More than 90 percent of the heroin comes from across the southern border. Ninety percent.
As a result of sanctuary city policies, in Fiscal 2017, more than 8,000 criminal aliens — these are really hardcore criminal aliens — were in police custody and were released because of our weak laws. Weakest in the world. Weakest in the history of the world. They were released back into our civilian population. And these gentlemen had to do some of the releasing, and I don’t think you were too happy when you knew. Because you knew — they know better than anybody. You knew what you were releasing. You knew it was trouble. And it often comes back to be trouble.
Where is the media outrage over the catch-and-release policies that allow deadly drugs to pour into our country? Where is the condemnation of the Democrat sanctuary cities that release violent criminals into our communities and then protect them? Like the Mayor of San Diego, when she warned everybody that ICE is coming, and they scattered. A big operation. A very expensive operation. They were all together. They all scattered. And what are they going to do about looking at her, by the way? I’ve been asking this question now for four weeks. She can do that? And where is the outcry over the savage gang MS-13 and its bloodthirsty creed, “Kill, Rape, and Control”?
Because the news media has overlooked their stories, I want the American people to hear directly from these families about the pain they have had to endure, losing not only their loved ones — great people. Great Americans. People that would have been very successful. People that, in some cases, could have been here one day. Could have been here. I know the way you feel. But could have been right here, standing here.
First, I’d like to ask a friend of mine, for now a long time, Laura Wilkerson from Pearland, Texas, to come and share her story about her incredible, incredible boy. Right?
MS. WILKERSON: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Come on, Laura. Just say a few words.
MS. WILKERSON: We want to tell you a little bit today about Josh. He was brutally tortured, strangled over and over. He was set on fire after death. His last hours were — was brutal. As everyone standing up here, none of our kids had a minute to say goodbye. We weren’t lucky enough to be separated for 5 days or 10 days. We’re separated permanently. Any time we want to see or be close to our kids, we go to the cemetery, because that’s where they are. We can never speak to them. We can’t Skype with them. And I want to thank you so much, in this room, for what you’re doing to understand — you guys know the permanent separation. It’s the media that won’t share it with other people. It’s permanent. We can never have them back on this Earth. Thankfully, I’ll see him again in Heaven.
But I want to thank you, Mr. Trump, and Vice President Trump for — I mean, Vice President Pence — for keeping their commitment to us. It’s been ongoing. It continues on. And please understand there are so many more of us than what you see here that have the same story. Over and over — drunk driving, killed. Over and over. And they don’t prosecute, or they’re let go on low bond. They’re out in 30 days. It’s sad for our country and it’s time to take it back.
And I want to thank each and every one of you law enforcement. You know it. You love it, you want to do your jobs. And thankfully, we have a President who will allow you to do that now. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Laura.
Next, I’d like to ask Juan Piña from Greenfield, California to speak. Juan, please come up. Thank you. Thank you, Juan.
MR. PIÑA: My name is Juan Piña. First of all, I want to thank the Remembrance Project for bringing my daughter’s name out to light, and for candidate Trump to let me speak about her. And I’ve got a lot of people that I need to thank.
My daughter was Christy Sue Piña. Back in 1990, she was kidnapped, strangled, stabbed, raped, and sodomized, and her body was found in an artichoke field. I’ve been fighting for twenty-eight and a half years. He’s been fighting. He was loose for 25. The last three and a half years he’s been fighting extradition.
And on May 3rd, God answered my prayers and Mexico finally turned him loose to us. And he is now in the Monterey County Jail and we can start court procedures for my daughter’s death.
And I want to thank everybody that was involved in getting him over here, the sheriff department of Monterey County for the investigator. The sheriff never told her, “Don’t give up on this. Just stay on it, and stay on it.” And she pinky swore that she was going to get him over there, and she did.
And I just want to thank the President and everybody. And I just hope everybody can get what I just got. And I’m out here speaking for the thousands of victims that we have here in the United States. And I want to thank you all. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: So Juan fought for many years, and it’s hard to believe but that’s actually a great feeling.
MR. PIÑA: Yes, it is.
THE PRESIDENT: And you just — incredible job. Incredible job.
Also here with us today is Steve Ronnebeck from Mesa, Arizona. Steve, if you could come up and share a few words, please.
MR. RONNEBECK: Thank you, Mr. President. January 22nd, 2015, Grant was at work on his overnight shift. An illegal alien came in wanting to buy cigarettes, dumped a jar of change out on the counter. Grant went to count the change and wasn’t counting fast enough. So, basically, this man pulled a gun. Grant did everything he was supposed to do and gave him the cigarettes. The man went ahead and executed him and shot him point blank in the face.
You know, you don’t hear these stories, and some of our media won’t talk to you about it, but this is permanent separation. For his birthday, I go to his grave. For Christmas — we set up a Christmas tree on Grant’s grave.
I received something earlier today from Director Homan; it was a challenge coin. And I want to thank you for that. To me this is a sign of integrity. I wish some of our media had the same integrity as our President, our Vice President, Director Homan, all of you in law enforcement. I wish some of our media had the same integrity. And I want to thank all of you, especially our law enforcement, for what you do.
Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, thank you. Members of VOICE, Barbara Gonzalez, Jon Feere, AVIAC — I want to thank all of them too, because they’re helping get the stories out. Sixty-three thousand Americans since 9/11 have been killed by illegal aliens. This isn’t a problem that’s going away; it’s getting bigger.
Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Sixty-three thousand. And that number, they say, is very low because things aren’t reported. Sixty-three thousand. And you don’t hear about that.
Also here with us today is Michelle Root from Modale, Iowa. Great place. Michelle, please come up.
MS. ROOT: Thank you, Mr. President. My daughter, Sarah Root, was killed within 24 hours after graduating with a Bachelor’s — 4.0 — in Criminal Investigations. Out celebrating, stopped at a stoplight, and rear-ended by Edwin Mejia going 70-plus miles an hour. He was arrested but then he paid a $5,000 bail, and now he has fled.
Our separation, like everybody has said, is permanent. Sarah never gets to go on to be a wife, a mother, a grandmother, an aunt. My son does not have his only sibling any longer. My life has been devastated and so has my daughter’s family and friends.
I want to thank President Trump and Vice President Pence, Barbara Gonzalez, Jon Feere, and Director Homan for all their support. They have never given up on us. AVIAC was a group that we started because we were tired of not having anybody else to go to, to get information. When Sarah was killed January 31st of 2016, I had nobody, but I was thankful for my politicians in my area. And, you know, President Trump was one of the first ones to reach out to my family, and he has been there from the beginning. He never left our side.
Now we just need to get my daughter’s killer found. Again, my separation is permanent. Sarah is never coming home. I never get to take a selfie with her again. I have no more pictures of her. So, please — thank you guys for everything. Keep up the great work. Our police officers, our Border Patrol, please continue to fight. Thank you. (Applause.)
MS. MENDOZA: Thank you. My name is Maryann Mendoza. And my son, Sergeant Brandon Mendoza, was killed on May 12th, 2014, on his way home from work by a three-time legal-limit drunk, who was also high on meth. He had drove over 35 miles the wrong way on four different freeways in Phoenix before slamming head-on into my son’s car.
As you know, they could fill this stage up every day for the next five months of victims of illegal alien crime, and it would just keep going. Unfortunately, we are members of a club of our children, our loved ones who’ve been killed by illegal aliens, but there’s hundreds of thousands of victims every year who are affected by illegal alien crime — rape, assault, identity theft.
These are things that go unreported, unchecked. You know, if the public would go to IllegalAlienCrimeReport.com and see the magnitude of crimes being committed against your fellow Americans by illegal aliens allowed to stay in this country, you will be sickened, because the mainstream media does not let you know what’s really happening.
And we are here — the members of AVIAC are here to educate the public as to what’s happening. And if anybody has been a victim of illegal alien crime, contact us because we have close connections with Barbara Gonzalez at ICE and Jon Feere. We have connections at the Department of Homeland Security that we are trying to get people the help that they need, and sent in the right direction.
President Trump, Vice President Pence, you’ve just been there for us, and there are no words to describe what your support and your caring has meant to each and every one of us. And thank you from the bottom of my heart. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, darling.
Come. Come. Your story is incredible.
MS. DURDEN: I’m one of your legal immigrants. I came the right way. I paid lots of money. It took me five years to become a citizen, a proud citizen. And I didn’t drag my son — he named himself “German Chocolate”; he was born in Germany — I didn’t drag him over borders, through deserts. I didn’t place him in harm’s way.
I protected my child from harm, but I couldn’t do that on July 12th, 2012. He was 30 years old. I couldn’t protect him because an illegal alien from Guatemala, with two felonies, one deportation, two DUIs — he was protected. Riverside, California: sanctuary. The judge, the DA, they knew who he was. They gave him probation after his second DUI. Five weeks later, he killed my child.
And if that wasn’t enough to deal with, this is my only child. I have no family. That’s it.
The public needs to know, and they deserve to know, that this could happen to each one of you at any given second. You hug your child, you send them off, no matter what age they are. And then you get that ugly phone call that will forever change your life. And thank God our President and Vice President, VOICE, my family at AVIAC, they rallied behind us — they were the only ones — and gave us a little light.
I was going to end my life; I had no purpose. But President Trump, coming down that escalator that day and talking about illegal immigration, stopped me in my track. And I had no clue at that point that I would ever be at the White House. And I thank President Trump, Vice President, everybody behind me — I thank you. I thank everybody out here. Make sure you get our stories out. I brought my son. This is what I have left — his ashes. I wear his ashes in a locket. This is how I get to hug my son.
So remember, when you go and hug your kids, that there are many of us, thousands of us, who don’t get to do that anymore. And let’s work together and get this done — all politicians. I don’t care what side you’re on. You don’t want your child in a casket or in an urn.
So get it together, for God’s sake, for this country, for our citizens.
Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. TRANCHANT: My name is Ray Tranchant. And I retired from the Navy. I flew off of aircraft carriers and had a great Navy career. And then I started my family in the ’90s. I had two little girls, Tessa and Kelsey, and they had a bigger brother, Dylan. And I raised them — and their mother and her mom is Hispanic, and so Tessa was Hispanic. And they lived near the border, as well.
Tessa was 16; she was a dreamer, and so was her friend Allie (ph) Kunhardt — 17 years old — 16 years old. Both beautiful girls. And they just loved talking about the future. They went to a Wawa in Virginia Beach to get a pack of gum, and they were stopped at a stoplight, and Alfredo Ramos was driving at 70 miles an hour. He was three times the legal limit. He had been arrested before for DUI, in which the judge gave him no time or fines. He had a fake ID from Florida, bought by the cartels. He had a fake driver’s license in this car. And he couldn’t speak English, and he needed an interpreter for the last DUI hearing. He was also arrested for drunk in public.
Bottom line: As he came in through Mesa and he tried to make it, and he was going — he was three times the legal limit. So the police told me that, at that, it’s like wearing almost blackout glasses while you’re driving.
When he hit the girls from behind, it was an explosion. The neighborhood thought a bomb went off. The girls were almost instantaneously dead. They worked on Tessa for a while, and I got to see her in the hospital.
Those are the dreamers that the United States should focus on. I can’t make an opinion about the young people that are here illegally because their parents brought them. But I can guarantee you the government had nothing to do with that. And everybody wants to blame, but the parents of those children are to blame.
And there was a lot of, “Well, maybe they’ll feel sorry for them because they’re kids. And maybe if they behave, they’ll just magically beat the system.” My mom came from Ireland. It took her 10 years to get her citizenship. She had a sponsor. If she got in trouble, not only did she get in trouble, the sponsor was in trouble.
I would have been speaking Northern Irish right now if she got out of line. That’s the way it was with INS in those days. And mom loved being an American. I helped her study for her exam.
So I’m all about legal immigration. But the invaders and people who come over our borders and decide to take the law in their own hands, and maybe are supported by a group of people that, for God’s sakes, I don’t know why they would want to do it — it’s evil, it hurts people, and it costs us billions of dollars a year. And they don’t seem to want to pay for it. They want us to pay for it, the other taxpayers.
I want to thank President Trump, because when those kids died, I was a city employee, so of course I sued the city and the judge, and the adjoining city with the judge there. And, of course, they’re immune.
But it didn’t make me really friendly with the city. It didn’t make me friendly with ICE, because basically they claimed they weren’t called. The sheriff’s department said that we called them, and it was a back-and-forth. So no one took responsibility.
So being in that situation, where no one takes responsibility in this government at all means that your standing in a dark forest at night when it’s raining and it’s cold and your lost, everybody you talk to, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, but, you know, he was drunk and we have a lot of drunks here and blah, blah” — let me tell you, the guy shouldn’t have been there at that time. He shouldn’t have been there. And we had many opportunities to get him out.
So what’s happening? Our representative is the President and the Vice President. They took us in, and we’re going to fight this battle. And we’re going to win it. And we’re going to clean it up. And I’m very proud of that. I’m very proud to be a part of that. And I will support you, as law enforcement, and my President and Vice President as much as they need.
I want to thank the Remembrance Project for standing there when I had no one else. And God bless you, and I hope this doesn’t happen to you. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: This is Tom Selleck. (Laughter.) Except better looking. Right? Better looking.
MS. GIBBONEY: Thank you. Thank you. My name is Angel mom Agnes Gibboney. My family legally emigrated from Hungary. We escaped during the revolution. We couldn’t come to the United States as my mother planned because my father was born in Yugoslavia and they wanted us to stay. And because my mother said no, they didn’t allow us to come to the American embassy. We went to — we had the choice of South Africa, Austria, or Brazil. We went to Brazil and lived there 13 years trying to legally immigrate to the United States.
When we immigrated to Brazil, we were stateless. We didn’t belong anywhere because the government took our citizenship because we escaped. And when we came to United States, we were stateless. And I’m very honored and proud to say this is my home, my country. And I will fight for this country until my death.
Thank you, law enforcement, Border Patrol, immigration, Barbara, everybody that got me here today. And thank you for fighting this fight with us. Because trust me, you don’t want to talk in our shoes.
And, President Trump, thank you for always standing behind us. You are the biggest birthday present I got, and I’m still waiting for that shovel to help build the wall at the border. I live in California.
And I would like to ask, if you don’t want your state to become a sanctuary state — so I would like to ask President Trump, if you would tweet and endorse us to FightSanctuaryState.com to help us so we’re not going to go down. Because if California continues on this path, the rest of the country will follow.
And I am so proud and honored of you, Mr. President. The integrity and character that you have shown us, pulling the daggers out of your back every day hasn’t been fair. But I want you to know that I’m very honored to call you my President. And God bless you and your family always, and Mr. Pence. And God bless this country. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
MR. ROSENBERG: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. This is my son, Drew. He was in law school in San Francisco in 2010 when Roberto Galo tried to make a last-second left-hand turn and hit him. Instead of stopping, he tried to flee. So he accelerated, drove over his body. My son was on a motorcycle. His helmet came off, wedged under one of his tires. He backed up, driving over him a second time, and then trying to get away, went forward. By that time, a guy had gotten out of the car and stood in front of Galo. And he stopped with his rear tire on my son’s abdomen. And five people had to lift the car off of him.
But I want to talk about somebody else. And you heard Agnes mention FightSanctuaryState.com. In April of this year, I filed with the state of California an initiative to overturn the sanctuary state. There’s just way too many deaths, way too many traffic collisions.
I should just add, on an aside, we gave out driver’s licenses in 2015. And in two years — the first two years of that — traffic fatalities on what was supposed to be safer roads have gone up 19 percent. Hit-and-runs have gone up 26 percent. Yet, they’re still telling people the roads are safer because of that.
But there’s so many other — and then, somebody who is not here, a woman named Veronica Cabrera Ramirez — to give you an example of what happens with sanctuary — she was a domestic violence victim. Called the Santa Rosa police. They arrested the perpetrator. He had been deported previously. ICE filed a detainer. And then, the day that they decided to release him, instead of calling ICE and giving ICE a chance to show up — they were an hour and a half away — they gave them 16 minutes to show up and they released him. And 16 days later, he murdered Ms. Ramirez.
And according to Kevin de León, who was the author of the sanctuary bill, that makes the state safer — if you keep the federal police, the federal law enforcement over here, and you keep the state law enforcement here, that makes the state safer. That’s absurd. It’s outrageous. And something has to be done and I hope that — as Agnes said, if we don’t kill this in California, it will spread. And I know it already is in some places. It’s a death sentence for American law-abiding citizens.
Anyway, I’d like to thank the President and the Vice President, and everybody else who is here. Director Homan, thank you so much. You’ve become an incredible friend. Jon Feere, Barbara Gonzalez, and, my new friend today, Kirstjen Nielsen. (Laughs.) Anyway, thank you all very much, particularly law enforcement. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: And I just said, “Would you like to speak?” And you said, “No, I cry too…” — she said, “I’ve been crying for too long, for too much.” So, that’s fine. Right?
THE PRESIDENT: That’s good. Well, I just want to thank everybody for being here. I know these families. I know many more families that have gone through the same thing. And I cannot imagine it being any worse, but we pledge to act with strength and with resolve, and in the memory of those who have been lost so needlessly.
And it’s because of families like yours, that my administration created the new office of DHS — the Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement — which has been doing, I hear, a fantastic job. We call it “VOICE” so that your voices can be heard.
Today, we have released the first VOICE report. Within the first months of VOICE, we’ve opened more than 2,800 victims registered to receive information on their perpetrator. We’re following these people. We’re following them so it can’t happen again by that individual.
VOICE assisted hundreds of families already, connected them to crucial services such as grief counseling, followed up their cases, and helped ensure that the criminal aliens that harmed their families so egregiously were detained, removed, and deported.
Our first duty, and our highest loyalty, is to the citizens of the United States. We want safety in our country. We want border security. We don’t want people in our country that don’t go through a process. We want people in our country based on merit. Not based on a draw, where other countries put their absolute worst in a bin and they start drawing people. Do you think they’re going to put their good ones? They don’t put their good ones. They put their bad ones. And then, when they commit crimes, we’re so surprised.
We will not rest until our border is secure, our citizens are safe, and we finally end the immigration crisis once and for all. We want safety in our country. We want strong borders. We want people to come in, but we want them to come in the proper way. So thank you all for being here. These are incredible families, incredible people. Your loved ones have not died in vain. Much of what we’re doing today is because of what you’ve had to endure.
And we just thank you all very much for being here. And God bless you all. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks very much. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody.
Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you.