A not-for-profit organization that tirelessly advocates for families whose loved ones have been killed by illegal aliens inspired President Trump to establish an official federal program to assist the victims’ families.
Maria Espinosa, co-founder and national director of The Remembrance Project, became more deeply concerned about illegal-alien crime after a 2009 lawsuit filed against the Houston Police Department caught her attention. A widow of a slain officer brought the case seeking changes in the department’s sanctuary city policies following her husband’s murder by a previously-deported illegal alien with prior arrests.
“That is what intrigued me,” Espinosa said in a recent interview with DML Daily. “Why a lawsuit? And what are the sanctuary city policies? I just couldn’t believe that we weren’t enforcing current laws and that illegal aliens could be released if they committed certain crimes.
“That is why the Remembrance Project was born,” she added. “In 2009 it started, and now it is a huge, hot political issue.”
Since then, The Remembrance Project has been educating the public about the epidemic of illegal alien crime throughout the country, and raising awareness of the effects of illegal immigration.
“It took us a while when we started the organization and started talking to people about sanctuary city policy because we weren’t political,” Espinosa said. “Through volunteering, we met others who were more savvy and politically connected, and we found out that politicians knew exactly what was going on. First they lie to you, then they say, ‘No I didn’t mean that, that’s not what we meant,’ and basically, ‘We don’t care.’”
Espinosa’s group struggled to get their message to the public which, in turn, could impact politicians who might be sympathetic to their plight.
“The media was not helping,” Espinosa said. “Law enforcement, who supported open-borders, were not helping. Obviously politicians were not helping. So we had to go around all of them and tell the public.”
That is when The Remembrance Project developed their flagship initiative, The Stolen Lives Quilt, which is made up of 3′ x 6′ banners that feature three victims’ photographs and names, and a short story about each victim.
The banners are displayed at rallies, city council meetings, vigils, and state houses across America—anywhere that the visuals will remind people of the continuing injustice, unspeakable loss, and suffering of families whose loved ones’ lives have been ‘stolen’ by illegal alien criminals.
“I recall one of my speeches in Arizona attracted 600 people, and outside there were all these quilts, it was amazing,” said Dennis Michael Lynch when asked to comment about the program. “I’d always run into Maria at immigration events, and she would be working hard to get someone in the media to listen to her. She is tireless.”
“We hoped our Stolen Life Quilt banners would help connect the dots for Americans since so many illegal alien crime stories stayed local—many times just in their own community,” Espinosa said. “We wanted to do the job for the media and show America what was taking place.”
In 2012, Espinosa, along with other representatives of The Remembrance Project, went on a tour of 25 states, displaying the banners and asking those in politics and law enforcement to simply impose current immigration laws. Following the tour, The Remembrance Project updated their banners with state flags showing where the illegal alien crimes occurred.
“We wanted to create a ‘quilt’ effect,” Espinosa said, “to show that this is more rampant than you know. This is preventable. This could be your family.”
Quilt banners are currently in use throughout the country by groups working to bring an end to sanctuary cities and illegal immigration.
Espinosa and other volunteers were compelled to advocate more strongly for American families who had lost loved ones to illegal alien crime when, in 2014, former President Obama established a White House Task Force on New Americans. His initiative created federal, state, and local support systems for the linguistic, economic, and civic integration of immigrants and refugees. Offices for New Americans began opening across the country.
“We wanted to have a response for Americans in regard to Obama’s task force to assist illegal aliens and refugees.” Espinosa said.
Along with three other Latinos, Espinosa sent letters to all U.S. governors in April 2015 asking them “to create an office in their state to assist families with medical, hospital, counseling and other services that they needed—maybe going through the court system.”
According to Espinosa, navigating the legal system can be particularly challenging. “Many families are revictimized by an activist judge behind the desk or an activist district attorney that misguides them.”
“As you can probably guess,” Espinosa said regarding the letters sent to the governors, “we did not get a good response—about a half-dozen letters and they were pretty much template, stock letters … thank you for reaching out.” They received only one phone call, and it was from former Governor of Arizona Jan Brewer’s office, yet no action was taken to fulfill the letters’ requests.
Undaunted, Espinosa sent a similar letter in 2016 to the final four Republican primary candidates—Trump, Cruz, Kasich, and Rubio—appealing for assistance for American families victimized by illegal aliens.
“Where are their voices?” Espinosa asked when speaking with DML Daily. “Nowhere.”
“The problem is that when our families speak out about illegal immigration, they’re called racists, they’re called nativists, white supremacists, or what have you,” Espinosa said. “These are the horrific challenges, all preventable, that American families are put through because our government is not doing what it’s supposed to do for Americans, and its fundamental duty is to secure our borders and enforce current laws. Local law enforcement collaborates with the Feds on other federal offenses—kidnapping, counterfeiting—why are illegal immigration and illegal aliens off the table?”
“It’s because people profit from it,” Espinosa asserted. “And politicians are bought and paid for.”
Espinosa stressed that the issue of illegal immigration “has to be personal with everyone. There are hidden costs—I’m paying more. There are longer lines at the ER, there are higher medical and education costs, loss of jobs. There are impacts that people don’t see unless they are faced with a killing that is horrendous and a complete tragedy to their families, and then they pay attention. But it’s too late for them.”
The Remembrance Project has united the victimized families who are eager to prevent others from “having to feel the pain and the suffering and the economic impacts that their family is feeling.”
Evidently, Donald Trump can relate. He was the only one of the GOP candidates to respond to Espinosa’s appeal for help, sending a formal commitment that a future Trump administration would support the Remembrance Project’s national program, assisting families with medical, burial, counseling, and legal assistance.
True to his word, President Trump has instituted a new federal program, the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), to assist the victims of illegal alien crime, and their families.
On February 20, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly ordered the formation of VOICE under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, while eliminating all taxpayer-funded advocacy for illegal aliens and reallocating all illegal alien-associated resources to support American families victimized by their crimes.
“Criminal aliens routinely victimize Americans and other legal residents.” Kelly wrote in a memo. “Often, these victims are not provided adequate information about the offender, the offender’s immigration status, or any enforcement action taken by ICE against the offender.”
The Remembrance Project has moved its headquarters from Houston, Texas, to Washington, D.C. to support the president’s new initiative.
“We’re excited to be here and have the opportunity, and have a friend in the White House,” Espinosa said. “Finally, someone’s listening. We’re ecstatic that he shined a bright light on what is taking place all across the United States to our own American families. This is not acceptable. It just seems like, here in this nation, a nation under God, that political correctness has somehow callously labeled the killings of American children simply as human collateral. That’s a nation that’s on the wrong track.”
“Every single killing and crime committed by an illegal alien was preventable,” Espinosa said. “And that is our focus. If that illegal alien had not been given access to our communities and our loved ones, then this person would still be alive.”
Donations to The Remembrance Project can be made online at http://theremembranceproject.org/.
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