China / World

Rape case may boost immigration reform

By Xinhua (China Daily) Updated: 2017-03-29 07:12

Undocumented workers provide labor for tough jobs, opponents say

WASHINGTON - The brutal rape of a teenage girl by two illegal immigrants on March 16 could become a rallying cry for United States President Donald Trump's coming immigration reform.

Trump has vowed to stem the massive tide of millions of illegal migrants entering the country.

A 14-year-old girl in Rockville, Maryland, was forced into a school bathroom and violently sodomized, raped and made to perform oral sex by two fellow students from Guatemala and El Salvador respectively.

One of the alleged assailants, 18-year-old Henry Sanchez from Guatemala, was confirmed to be in the country illegally, and had been placed in a class of 14-year-old 9th graders. The other 17-year-old alleged attacker is suspected of being an illegal migrant.

The case has grabbed headlines nationwide, and could give new energy to Trump's immigration reform agenda, which has already been galvanized by his election win in November.

Illegal immigration was a focal point of Trump's campaign, and is an issue of great concern to many of his supporters.

In his first speech since his inauguration, Trump vowed again to introduce a new merit-based immigration system to curb new arrivals after his administration had been deporting undocumented immigrants for weeks.

"Along with other stories of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, the Rockville case is one that will be highlighted by the Trump administration and those supporting tighter curbs on immigration, stricter enforcement of deportation orders, and restrictions or punitive measures for cities, counties, and states that pursue sanctuary policies that restrict cooperation with Federal immigration authorities," said Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.


This could result in a push to examine how immigration laws, which have strict distinctions right now for those who are minors, can better reflect criminal laws, where minors who commit particularly heinous crimes can be charged as adults, Mahaffee said.

The outrage over the case among Trump supporters - as well as many parents in Rockville - underscores the frustration of many US citizens with the nation's broken immigration system.

Often, immigrants who follow the rules are penalized by strict rules, while those who enter the country illegally simply melt into the community of 11 million illegal migrants.

Proponents of tougher immigration laws say the issue represents a breakdown of law and order, that it is important for the sake of national security to know who is entering the country, and that illegal migrants bring down wages in certain industries, such as construction.

But opponents of Trump's immigration stance argue that undocumented immigrants provide labor for tough jobs that US citizens do not want to do.

"Trump allies are using the Rockville case to make the argument that undocumented immigrants pose a danger to Americans. They claim this example illustrates broader dangers to America," said Darrell West, vice-president and director of governance studies of the Brookings Institution.

"People who worry about immigrant crime already are Trump supporters. It is doubtful this crime will shift undecided voters," he said.

Still, Trump supporters are outraged about the crime, and that may give leverage to Trump over lawmakers to push his immigration policies through Congress, some analysts said.

Trump has said he would build a wall along the US-Mexico border to keep illegal migrants out of the country.

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