Holding Congress’ Feet to the Fire on Immigration

WASHINGTON, DC – Two organizations converged on Capitol Hill over three days to implore members of Congress to pay heed to their common theme: do something about PHIs (Persons Here Illegally).

June 27 marked the official launching of AVIAC (Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime), followed by the seventh annual Hold Their Feet to the Fire national radio forum sponsored by FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) June 28-29.


As explained on its website, aviac.us, the organization was “started by several of us who have suffered the ultimate tragedy of losing a loved one to illegal alien crime. We have suffered the ultimate in family separation. We will be inviting all families who have been the victim of illegal alien crime from a murder to ID theft to join our group. Our organization is also open to anyone who believes that immigration law must be followed and those who have broken the law must be held accountable.”

Listed as founding members are: Don Rosenberg, Mary Ann Mendoza, Michelle Wilson-Root, Sabine Durden, Maureen Maloney, and Brian McCann. All except McCann had a child killed by a PHI. In McCann’s case, the victim was his brother.

All six instances were fatal automobile accidents, the PHI often drunk and/or driving without a license. As Rosenberg emotionally explained at AVIAC’s launching at the National Press Club, his 25-year-old son Drew, a law student, was riding his motorcycle when hit by a car driven by a PHI. The accident happened at low speeds, but the panicked PHI ran over Drew’s injured body while trying to flee the scene, causing the fatal injuries. Had the PHI simply stopped upon initial impact – he didn’t, Rosenberg concludes, because of his illegal status – Drew would have walked away with minor bruises.

Mendoza’s son Brandon was a police officer killed in a head-on collision by a PHI who had driven the wrong way for 35 miles on four different highways. Considering Brandon was in law enforcement, couldn’t he have just as easily been killed by a U.S. citizen? The point is, Rosenberg emphasizes, not how many crimes are committed by PHIs versus the overall population, but that if immigration laws were followed and enforced, these six PHIs never would have been in the country in the first place. “None of us [AVIAC members] would be here, we’d be home enjoying life with our loved ones.”

Rosenberg told The National Herald that he is mainly a liberal and disagrees with Donald Trump on many issues, “but I agree with him on immigration.” He said he evaluates politicians issue by issue, rather than taking an all-or-nothing approach. He told TNH that Trump reached out to him personally and wanted to hear the story about his son’s killing. Mendoza told TNH that “Donald Trump reached out to all of us, and after he was elected too, and the White House is now aware of AVIAC’s launching.”

Rosenberg never followed Trump on the campaign trail, but Mendoza and Durden did; both spoke at the Republican National Convention in July, 2016.


FAIR’s Seventh Annual Hold Their Feet to the Fire event, held at the Phoenix Park Hotel, featured an array of radio show hosts from around the country, including Rick Hamada, who traveled all the way from Hawaii for the event (and who interviewed this writer), and featured visits by various current and prospective members of Congress, including Rep. Jodey Arrington from Texas, and Dr. Kelli Ward, candidate for U.S. Senate from Arizona, who unsuccessfully challenged John McCain in 2016 and now vies to unseat that state’s junior senator, Jeff Flake. “He’s a sanctuary senator,” she told TNH. “You won’t see either of them at this event, because they’re both for open borders.”

NOTE: FAIR’s website is fairus.org, not to be confused with fair.org, the website of another organization also called FAIR, which stands for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.


Informed that TNH’s sister publication, Ethnikos Kyrix, is the largest Greek newspaper anywhere outside of Greece and has a large readership by Greeks whose first language is not English, many of whom may have concerns about the Trump Administration being harsh on immigrants, they were quick to point out the differences between immigrants (i.e., legal permanent residents or naturalized citizens) and PHIs.

“You hear this from Greek-Americans?” a surprised McCann said, because in his experience – he knows many Greek immigrants – they have assimilated very well and generally do not fear repercussions from the U.S. government.

“There is no roundup,” Rosenberg said. “If you’re here legally, you have nothing to worry about.”

Ward told TNH that President Trump, through his own actions – among other things his track record of hiring immigrants and that he married two foreign-born women – demonstrates that he is not anti-immigrant.

They blamed the media for creating and perpetuating false narratives. “It’s baloney,” they said, relaying far-fetched stories they heard from people who sincerely believe them, such as schoolchildren having been told that the president plans to build a wall so high that not even an airplane could fly over it.

As to whether a passion for enforcing immigration laws is rooted in racism, Rosenberg told TNH that because his son’s killer was from South America, his housekeeper/nanny, also from there, asked him not to be upset with her. “Why would I ever be upset with you?” he told her, “you don’t harm my children, you take care of them.”

Mendoza, whose son Brandon was half-Mexican (on his father’s side), added: “I don’t have a racist bone in my body. And remember, ‘illegal’ is not a race.”


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