In advance of Tuesday's speech by President Donald Trump’s on the need to secure the U.S.-Mexican border, the Republican National Committee has released a video featuring Americans allegedly killed by undocumented immigrants.
The 90-second video shows the devastated relatives of the victims, and clips of newscasts on murders committed by men who were in the country illegally. The video is hosted on Borderfacts.com, a website the RNC developed to make the case for a border wall, and stricter immigration enforcement.
Among the victims featured is Newman, Calif., Police Officer Ronil Singh, who was fatally shot.during a traffic stop on Dec. 26. Prosecutors have charged 33-year-old Gustavo Perez Arriaga with murder in the case. The Mexican citizen was arrested after a days-long manhunt as he prepared to flee to back across the border, authorities said.
Singh was a native of Fiji, and had worked since July 2011 in Newman, a town of about 10,000 people.
The video also shows Sandra Duran, 42, who was killed in 2017 on her way home from church in a T-bone car crash caused by Estuardo Alvarado, a 45-year-old undocumented immigrant. Alvarado was fleeing the scene of another crash when he hit the mother of two.
Court records showed Alvarado was in the country illegally, and had been charged with more than 20 felonies and misdemeanors since 1990. He had been deported to Mexico five times since 1998.
Duran’s father, Santos Duran, told a CBS reporter: “It hurts when somebody out of nowhere just takes your daughter’s life, and then you see the record he had … Why is this guy on the streets?”
“Why didn’t they put him away?”
“We’re trying to make a good living, good life for us,” Santos Duran said. “All of a sudden, it’s just destroyed.”
In a statement released about the video, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said: "President Trump is committed to fighting for American citizens and our national security. Meanwhile, Democrats are committed to fighting President Trump."
The video ends with the message: “Tell Democrats It’s Time to Secure the Border.”
Trump is expected to argue to the nation Tuesday night that a “crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border requires the long and invulnerable wall he’s demanding before ending a partial government shutdown that has hundreds of thousands of federal workers fearing missed paychecks on Friday.
Trump’s Oval Office speech will be followed by a Thursday visit to the southern border to highlight his demand for a barrier. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted the president will “meet with those on the front lines of the national security and humanitarian crisis.”
Since his first declared day as a presidential candidate, Trump has made crimes by undocumented immigrants a key issue.
The Republican convention in 2016 opened with heart-wrenching accounts by three speakers who had a loved one who was killed by an undocumented immigrant. Two of the killers were drunken drivers, another a gang member. The relatives called for mandatory cooperation between local officials and federal immigration authorities.
Many advocates for more lenient immigration policies assail Trump’s focus on crime, saying he is demonizing all illegal immigrants by portraying them as criminals.
The administration is talking about declaring a national emergency to allow Trump to move forward on the wall without Congress approving the $5.6 billion he wants. Vice President Mike Pence said again Tuesday the idea of making such a declaration remains on the table.
Such a move would certainly draw legal challenges, and Trump — who told lawmakers he would be willing to keep the government closed for months or even years — has said he would like to continue negotiations for now. “The passion you hear from President Trump, his determination to take this case to the American people, as he will tonight in his national broadcast from the Oval Office, comes from this president’s deep desire to do his job to protect the American people,” Pence said Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer have visited the White House for several negotiating rounds with Trump. Democratic congressional staffers also participated in weekend talks led by Pence at the White House.
Pelosi and Schumer called for equal time to respond to Trump. “Now that the television networks have decided to air the President’s address, which if his past statements are any indication will be full of malice and misinformation, Democrats must immediately be given equal airtime,” they said in a joint statement Monday night.
As Trump’s speech and border visit were announced, newly empowered House Democrats — and at least a few Republican senators — stepped up pressure on GOP lawmakers to reopen the government without giving in to the president’s demands. The closure, now in its 18th day, is the second-longest in history and would become the longest this weekend.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.