The mother of an Arizona policeman killed in May by a drunk driver who was in the country illegally told Newsmax TV
on Monday that deaths like her son's are a "daily occurrence" in states on the front lines of the immigration crisis.
"The [federal] government has got to understand that maybe the whole country doesn't experience it like us states that border Mexico: Texas, New Mexico, California, Arizona," Mary Ann Mendoza, mother of fallen Mesa, Ariz., police Sgt. Brandon Mendoza, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.
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"Just the day before yesterday, a friend of my son's who's on the [Mesa] police force responded to a call where a 3-year-old child was killed by an illegal woman driving with no driver's license, no insurance or anything," Mendoza said. "This is a daily occurrence here in Arizona."
Mendoza, who last week wrote an emotional open letter
to President Barack Obama, told Berliner she wants the president to acknowledge the real-life costs of failing to secure U.S. borders and deport illegal immigrants — especially those who commit crimes.
Her story has struck a chord in the debate over Central Americans
who are arriving in staggering numbers — an influx that has also roiled some of the communities being asked to shelter
Raul Silva Corona, the motorist who killed Brandon Mendoza, entered the country illegally at least two decades ago. In 1994, he pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy in connection with a case in Colorado, with other charges including assault and burglary dismissed as part of the deal, the Associated Press reported.
Mary Ann Mendoza said her own inquiries found that Corona, a native of Chihuahua, Mexico, was arrested in 2002 trying to re-enter the United States, and was sent back to Colorado to again face authorities there. Mendoza said she found no evidence that Corona served any jail time.
On the night of May 12, Corona, 42, was fleeing police in a high-speed chase near Phoenix. Brandon Mendoza, 32, was driving home from a shift.
"It was a single-lane off-ramp, merging from one freeway to the other," Mary Ann Mendoza told Berliner on Monday, "and this man was driving the wrong way, and hit my son head-on and killed him."
An autopsy showed Corona's blood-alcohol level was almost three times the legal limit, the Arizona Republic
"He had no insurance. He had no driver's license," said Mendoza. "Yet he was able to register a vehicle to drive."
The question that has haunted Mendoza since losing her son is why. In her letter to the president, she wrote, "When he [Corona] was convicted of these crimes in 1994 and the government knew he was in the country illegally, why wasn't he deported?"
"I am furious that the Federal Government allowed this criminal to stay in this country and KILL my son!" she wrote.
Mendoza told Berliner she's received no reply.
"It actually doesn't surprise me," she said of the non-response, "because I don't think that he [the president] understands things on a human level when it affects people as personally as this has affected me. Case in point: when he did not want to go down to the border
in Texas when he was there."
"If you don't experience it in person, you have no idea what it's about," said Mendoza, adding, "You have to be around it, you have to hear the noise, you have to see the faces. You have to understand on a first-hand basis . . . the hurt that it's caused."
Mendoza is aware of her story's emotional power, and plans to wield it to force change in U.S. border policy.
"I'm not going to allow my son's death to be a statistic," she said. "Like I said in my letter, my son meant too much to me and too much to this community for this just to be swept under the rug and just be another story that was on the news for a week."
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