On March 16, a 14-year-old girl was forced into a bathroom at Rockville High School and repeatedly raped and sodomized by two male students.
A rape committed at a high school is horrific enough to make national news. Schools should be the definition of safe spaces and fiercely guarded by teachers, police, and school staff.
Then details emerged that the alleged rapists were illegal immigrants and enrolled as high school freshman despite being 17 and 18. The elder suspect, Henry Sanchez-Milian, was stopped by Border Patrol last August and ordered to appear before an immigration judge. Immigration and Customs Enforcement considered their flight risk to be so great that they were denied bail, and both suspects will be tried as adults.
If you are wondering how this was possible, you aren’t alone. Even Townhall’s Katie Pavlich, who regularly covers immigration news, had questions:
This case raises all kinds of questions. Why are illegal aliens allowed to attend public schools? Were these students vetted before being allowed to attend public school? Do these students have criminal records in their home countries? Etc.
The answer is a series of policy and court decisions that converged with this tragic crime: Plyler v. Doe, a 1982 Supreme Court decision; the Catch-and-Release and Unaccompanied Minors policies of the Obama administration; and Montgomery County’s 2014 Sanctuary City policy.
Plyler v. Doe
The answer to “Why were these young men were enrolled in public school?” is a 1982 Supreme Court decision. In Plyler vs. Doe, the court struck down a Texas law that denied funding for the education of illegal immigrant minors attending public schools. In the 5-4 decision, the court ruled that Texas violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because “education has a fundamental role in maintaining the fabric of our society” and “provides the basic tools by which individuals might lead economically productive lives to the benefit of us all.”
The ruling also explained that minors illegally entering the U.S. could not be held responsible for the actions or decisions their parents made. As a result, public school systems are required to provide K-12 education to all children regardless of immigration status. This produces an estimated $60 billion burden for cash-strapped school systems across the country.
Age limits for K-12 vary by state. In the state of Maryland, all students under the age of 21 by the first day of school are eligible for enrollment. Students between 5 and 17 must attend school.
An Obama administration policy known as catch-and-release instructed law enforcement to release apprehended illegal aliens into the United States with instructions appear in court at future date. Due to “prosecutorial discretion,” these illegal immigrants, who were eligible for deportation by law and often in the custody of law enforcement due to other crimes, were merely assigned a court date and instructed to show up.
The crisis of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the U.S. made headlines in 2014, but the wave hasn’t ended. In fiscal year 2016, nearly 60,000 minors were apprehended at the border, a figure only slightly lower than the “crisis” in the summer of 2014.
Unaccompanied minors follow a similar policy as catch-and-release. However, they legally can’t be immediately deported due to the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. After they are apprehended by authorities and processed, the minor is placed into the custody of a family member or “sponsor,” and given a date to appear in court. Once released, the Office of Refugee Resettlement has no means of tracking these minors, who often arrive in the U.S. with no identification or health records and do not speak English.
Sadly, these minors often fall into abusive situations, which has been the focus of two recent investigations by the Government Accountability Office and a U.S. Senate subcommittee.
Sanctuary City Policies
In 2014, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett announced that Maryland’s most populated and wealthiest county would no longer comply with requests from ICE unless there was probable cause.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, between January 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015, Montgomery County denied 70 requests from ICE to hold illegal immigrants. Sixty-three, or 90%, of the requests were for illegal immigrants with criminal histories.
Despite the public record of Montgomery County championing illegal immigration, this week Roger Berliner, Montgomery County Council President, claimed that the county did not have a sanctuary policy and had a history of cooperating with ICE during criminal investigations.
Maryland Could Get Worse
The consequences of the policies that led up to this rape are not enough for the open borders extremists in Maryland. On Monday evening, just four days after the brutal rape made the news, the Maryland House of Delegates voted 83-55 to pass H.B. 1362, an anti-detainer bill that would prohibit state and local law enforcement from coordinating with ICE or other immigration enforcement when illegal immigrants are arrested on other charges.
Governor Larry Hogan quickly promised to veto this bill if it passes the Maryland Senate. However, the Democratic-majority in Annapolis only lacks two votes to override any veto. If this law passes, Maryland would join California, Colorado and Connecticut in outright banning state and local law enforcement to work with agencies like ICE.
Had this bill already been existing law, it would have prohibitedthe City of Rockville Police to contact or respond to ICE, and these two men likely would have been released on bail despite their flight risk.
Americans should be hopeful that we finally have a president and administration working to fix the problem of illegal immigration in the U.S. However, as Maryland demonstrates, the real problem doesn’t come from the Southwest border, but from cities, counties, and states determined to flaunt U.S. immigration laws to pursue their own liberal agendas. This merely sends the signal to other countries that, despite what our laws say, you can make it as an illegal immigrant in America and many organizations will help you.