Updated February 19, 2019 - 10:54 pm
WASHINGTON — Two mothers of children slain by undocumented immigrants said they tried unsuccessfully to persuade President Donald Trump to delay signing a spending bill to prevent a government shutdown when they and four other “angel moms” met with him Friday.
Instead, Trump signed the measure and declared a national emergency to fund his signature wall at the southern border. The moms’ consolation prize: the chance to sit in the front row during a presidential news conference in the Rose Garden where Trump pointed to the women as proof the country is facing a “national emergency.”
“We tried to appeal to him not to sign it and maybe wait,” said Sabine Durden, whose son Domenic, a California sheriff’s dispatcher, was killed in a car accident with an undocumented and unlicensed immigrant in 2012. The driver pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and was deported to Guatemala.
Durden said she discussed her objections “broadly,” but did not dissuade Trump from going forward.
“After all he is the president,” Durden said. “He has some trusted advisers around him. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. That’s why I elected him. I’m glad he went for the national emergency.”
Maureen Maloney said she would have preferred that Trump not sign the sprawling spending bill as “the public did not have time to go through it.”
Maloney’s son Matthew Denice was killed by an undocumented immigrant who was driving drunk in 2011; the immigrant was found guilty of multiple charges involving drunk driving and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Provision draws fire
The Massachusetts woman said she especially objected to a provision that would exempt undocumented immigrants from removal if they are sponsors or potential sponsors of unaccompanied minors.
“The new provision would create an incentive for illegal aliens already here to order up kids from Central America as human shields against deportation,” Mark Krikorian of the pro-enforcement Center for Immigration Studies wrote for the conservative National Review.
Californian Don Rosenberg started Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime after his son Drew was killed by an unlicensed immigrant driver in 2010. The driver was in the country illegally but was given temporary protected status. He spent 43 days in jail and was allowed to continue living in the United States for two more years until he was deported.
Rosenberg said he came to Washington to attend a larger meeting with some angel moms, dads or spouses and Trump tentatively set for earlier in the week. As it became clear that the president would sign a measure largely opposed by angel parents, Rosenberg said, the White House moved the meeting to Friday.
Like many of the other parents, Rosenberg had plane tickets to return home. And so the number of people who attended the Oval Office meeting with Trump was reduced to six parents.
The White House did not respond to Review-Journal questions about Friday’s events.
When CNN reporter Jim Acosta asked Trump at Friday’s news conference if he was “concocting a national emergency here in order to get your wall because you couldn’t get it through other ways,” the president challenged him to ask the “angel moms” what they thought.
“This is real,” responded Susan Stevens, whose daughter Toria died of an opioid overdose at age 22.
Trump frequently argues that his border wall would greatly reduce the trafficking of illegal drugs and overdose deaths, which exceeded 70,000 in the U.S. in 2017.
Parents support Trump
For all their disappointment, the parents who spoke with the Las Vegas Review-Journal nonetheless continued to stand behind Trump.
“Absolutely, I support the president. I support securing the border,” Maloney said. If Trump didn’t sign the measure, “the government would have been shut down again,” she noted. “It’s not a great bill, but it’s the bill that was brought before him.”
Rosenberg said he believes Trump has done a horrible job of promoting or explaining his border plan to the American people.
“Aside from the fact that it (the bill) stinks,” Rosenberg said he’s glad Trump is in office. “If he wasn’t there, the borders would be open. If Hillary Clinton had been elected president, the guy who killed my son would be on a pathway to citizenship.”
Even though Durden didn’t like the bill Trump signed, she did have a chance to spend time in the Oval Office and the Rose Garden. And after the news conference, she had a chance to confront CNN’s Acosta, which she enjoyed immensely.
“He knows us. He remembers us. He knows our children,” Durden said of Trump. Later she added, “If I lost my faith in him, it would take me down.”
“I have such respect for these people. Angel Moms, Angel Dads, Angel Families. I have great respect for these people. These are great people. These are great people. They’re fighting for their children that have been killed by people that were illegally in this country. And the press doesn’t cover them; they don’t want to, incredibly. And they’re not treated the way they should be. They’re fighting for other people because they don’t want what happened to their children or husband or anybody.”
-President Donald Trump, Feb. 15, 2019