MESA, Ariz.—Mary Ann Mendoza has been up onstage with President Donald Trump before, but this time, she was happy to be part of the crowd.
Mendoza attended the Make America Great Again rally in her hometown of Mesa, Arizona, on Oct. 19 to support the president. She wore a white t-shirt with a photo of her son, Sgt. Brandon Mendoza, emblazoned on it. Brandon was 32 when he was killed in a head-on collision in 2014, by an illegal alien who was drunk, high on meth, and speeding.
Raul Silva-Corona, the illegal alien who killed Brandon, had been convicted of crimes in Colorado in 1994, but failed to show up to court and ended up in Arizona.
Mendoza has met Trump several times, along with other “angel moms”—women whose children have been killed by illegal immigrants—and she is grateful for his focus on border security and more robust immigration laws.
“I’m very excited about [Trump’s] latest thought … to take the military to the border and shut our borders down,” Mendoza said after the rally. “He has that right, he has the ability, and he has to stop worrying about the ACLU and all these stupid organizations that file these lawsuits.”
Trump has said he intends to send the military to the border to stop the illegal entry of the caravan of thousands of Central American migrants that are currently attempting to cross into Mexico en route to the United States.
“We’re going to have the military stationed. They’re not coming into this country. They might as well turn back,” Trump said on Oct. 19 during a bill-signing ceremony.
Illegal Border Crossings Spike
Increasing numbers of illegal aliens have been crossing the southwest border in recent months, with the largest surge comprising family units. Most are released into the interior of the United States, with a court date set for years down the road.
More than 12,700 individuals who were part of a family unit (at least one adult and one child) were apprehended by Border Patrol after crossing the border in August. The total number of family units apprehended by Border Patrol so far in fiscal 2018 is almost 90,000.
“Smugglers and traffickers understand our broken immigration laws better than most and know that if a family unit illegally enters the U.S., they are likely to be released into the interior,” Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesman Daniel Hetledge said in a Sept. 12 statement. “Specifically, DHS is required to release families entering the country illegally within 20 days of apprehension.”
Mendoza said the inability of the United States to secure its borders makes her furious.
“I honestly blame it on our politicians who stand at a microphone and talk about how … we need to be welcoming these people with open arms. And wanting to give these people drivers licenses, and wanting to give them free benefits, and wanting to give them the ability to vote,” she said. “Who the hell are these politicians? They’re not American politicians if this is what they’re for in this country—they’re just not.”
Exploiting Legal Loopholes
At the rally, Trump attacked Democrats for not closing the loopholes that allow for illegal immigrants to be released into the United States without proper vetting.
“As we speak, the Democrat Party is openly inviting millions of illegal aliens to break our laws, violate our borders, and overwhelm our nation,” he said. “Democrats want to throw your borders wide open to deadly drugs and ruthless gangs.”
In an interview with Politico on Oct. 16, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “I don’t see any of us voting for wall funding,” referring to all Democrats.
“We have a responsibility to secure our borders. There are ways to do that that are consistent with civilization, humanitarianism, and who we are as a nation. We have to remove all doubt about that,” Pelosi said, without giving any specific policy details.
Trump said anyone who votes for a Democrat is crazy.
“The Democrats don’t care that a flood of illegal immigration is going to totally bankrupt our country, because all the Democrats want is power,” Trump said.
One study suggests illegal immigrants vote 80 percent Democrat and 20 percent Republican. Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had promised to legalize all illegal immigrant in the United States within 100 days of taking office.
“That’s why Democrats support programs like catch-and-release,” Trump said. “That’s why Democrats want to give illegal immigrants the right to vote.”
In a tweet on Oct. 20, Trump urged Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to contact him—“Chuck & Nancy, call me!”—to help fix immigration loopholes.
Schumer replied, writing on Twitter, “The president is desperate to change the subject from health care to immigration because he knows that health care is the number one issue Americans care about.”
Ipsos/Reuters poll data in July found that immigration was the overall top issue for likely voters in the midterms, with the economy and health care close behind. Immigration has remained the top issue for Republican voters, but Democrats have recently placed health care as their top priority, as indicated by a KFF Health Tracking poll published on Oct. 18.
Against Illegal Immigration
Critics of Trump’s immigration platform have called him racist, which, Mendoza says, is the furthest thing from the truth.
“He is concerned about American safety, just like I am. I’m a mother, I’m a grandmother. I’ve already lost a child. I paid the ultimate price to this country, losing a child at the hand of an illegal alien,” she said.
Mendoza said that, like Trump, she is against illegal immigration.
“It has nothing to do with their skin color, their religion, their origin, where they’ve come from, what they’ve done in their past life—it has to do with the fact that they are illegally present in our country, and no other country in this world puts up with that.”
Mendoza had to pause several times during the interview as police officers from the Mesa Police Department—the department her son worked for—came up to hug her and shake her hand.
As the rally crowd dispersed, she was still energized.
“[It was ] really nice just to be able to be free with my emotions and just get excited with the crowd about our president,” she said. “I’m just so proud of what he does and how he stands up for me as an American citizen and everybody in this country.”