By Sabine Durden
Lawmakers in Washington need to put politics aside and take real action on border security before more angels get their wings and more American families are robbed of their loved ones, as was mine.
I became a United States citizen in 1994 after immigrating legally from Germany. I became a member of a much different group 18 years later, when my child was killed by someone who had no right to be in America. Since then, I’ve met dozens of other parents who are also members of this awful group known as “Angel” families.
For lawmakers and media commentators in Washington, the battle over border security and illegal immigration is a political spat. For me, it’s extremely personal. I’m tired of welcoming new Angel families like the Singhs to our sad club.
Newman, Ca. police officer Ronil Singh was shot to death by an illegal immigrant while on patrol Christmas night. I listened to Officer Singh’s brother Reggie as he spoke about his family’s devastating loss with President Trump and a group of Border Patrol and Homeland Security officials in Texas last week. “What my family is going through right now — I do not want any other family or law-enforcement person to go through that,” Reggie said.
I remember thinking exactly the same thing in 2012 when I had to cremate my son, Dominic, after an illegal immigrant with two DUI convictions and one prior deportation ran him down while he was riding his motorcycle. My son’s killer had been allowed to live in our community after repeatedly breaking our immigration laws because of supposedly compassionate “sanctuary” policies. He served only 35 days in jail despite having no license and no insurance.
Like Ronil and Reggie Singh, I came to this country legally, according to the laws of my adopted homeland, only to lose my loved one to someone who chose to defy those same laws.
Like Ronil Singh, Dominic was also a California law enforcement professional — he was a 9-1-1 dispatcher for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, a volunteer with his local fire department and aspired to become a police helicopter pilot.
More than anything, my son wanted to help people by preserving our system of law and order. That’s exactly what I heard from Ronil Singh’s family about their stolen hero, too. Ronil came to this country legally, learned to speak English and worked hard to earn a spot as a canine police officer.
Both Ronil and Dominic were taken from us by someone with no respect for that system.
Watching Reggie Singh speak, hearing the fresh wounds in his voice, I was reminded that those wounds never truly heal. I still carry Dominic’s ashes with me so I can feel like a part of him is still with me. I remember his infectious smile and his quick wit. I remember how his friends affectionately called him “German Chocolate” on account of his heritage, half German and half African-American.
I will never forget Dominic, but I will also never forget the broken system that enabled his death at the hands of someone who should never have been in California to begin with
For too many of the politicians involved in this border security debate in Washington, the empathy and emotion only flow one way. They talk about “dreamers,” but never about the dreams of Americans such as Dominic and Ronil. They talk about “family separation,” but never about the American families permanently separated because of our country’s failure to enforce its own immigration laws.
That’s why I offered to bring my son’s ashes to Washington if that’s what it takes to shift the conversation. One party’s opposition to President Trump cannot become an excuse to refuse the border security and immigration enforcement measures needed to prevent more American families from joining the ranks of the grieving.
I hope that lawmakers in Washington can see that there is more than a political fight at stake. There are real families and real lives that are devastated by the effects of inaction. If it takes me bringing my son’s ashes to Capitol Hill for them to see how important it is to save other mothers from becoming “angel moms,” I am prepared to do that.
These are wings I would wish on no family.
Sabine Durden of Moreno Valley has testified before the House Judiciary Committee and appeared on numerous television and radio shows to share her son’s story.