Republican candidates for president have fittingly come to Ohio to debate, among other things, immigration policy. In late July, the United States House and Senate heard testimonies from families of Americans murdered by illegal aliens who had been shielded from deportation by sanctuary policies.
The consequences of these policies hit home in Ohio just a few days later when Margaret Kostelnik was shot and killed in her home by an illegal alien who later confessed to her murder in addition to the attempted rape of a 14-year old girl, the shooting of another woman (who thankfully survived) in front of her two young children, and for firing at police officers, all on the same day.
With sadness, but not surprise, Ohio soon learned that the perpetrator had been picked up by sheriff deputies just a couple of weeks before, but was let go in spite of his being in the country illegally.
Unlike some other high-profile sanctuary murders, Kostelnik's killer was put back on the streets not by a rogue sheriff's department, but by the very federal agencies whose jobs used to include removing illegal aliens. The federal agents who ordered him released were acting on directives from the White House and Department of Homeland Security that order agents to ignore immigration violations unless the perpetrator meets the Obama administration's priorities.
And what are those priorities? As has been reported in the New York Times and Washington Post, the priority of the Obama administration is to allow as many illegal aliens to stay in the country as possible. Obama himself threatened "consequences" for any agent who didn't follow the new directives.
As one DHS insider put it, before Obama, "everyone in the country unlawfully was fair game." But now the administration is going through the detainee population looking for illegal aliens to release into the U.S. with the intention of letting them stay permanently.
Primarily, the administration's policies are aimed at protecting and rewarding citizens of other nations who want to work illegally in the U.S., many of whom commit additional crimes, like identity theft, to do so. That in itself is an abrogation of the president's duty to American workers and families, but the policies do more than carve out exceptions to the law for economic migrants seeking illegal employment. They inevitably shield violent criminals from the law as well.
These sanctuary murders are not isolated cases. Their victims are not anecdotes. According to the head of Immigration and Customs enforcement, the criminal aliens released by the Obama administration over the past four years went on to kill someone at a rate of once every 12 days, and that doesn't count the crimes committed by illegal aliens like Kostelnik's murderer, who are routinely released because they don't meet the administration's priorities.
I would like to hear the Republican candidates state unequivocally that the priority in immigration policy and enforcement should be the citizens of the United States.
Open-borders advocates who support the idea of a sanctuary nation argue that illegal aliens are less prone to violence than legal immigrants or citizens. That obfuscates the point: these are lives that should not have been lost and would not have been lost if federal immigration agencies were allowed to do their jobs.
DHS now says they will deport Kostelnik's killer after he has served his sentence.
Too little too late for too many.
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Ken Blackwell is a former mayor of Cincinnati and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.