President Donald Trump gave his condolences to the fiance of Sandra Duran, who was killed in a car crash in February by an immigrant in the country illegally.
It was the latest public gesture by the president to call attention to crimes committed by immigrants, notes the Daily Mail. Most notably, he invited victims of crimes by immigrants in the country illegally to his joint address to Congress on Feb. 28, earning the approval of many of his supporters.
Critics accused him of exploiting tragedy for political gain. In a Facebook post, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont gave a sharp rebuke:
The murder of anyone is a tragedy, and our hearts go out to all families who lose a loved one to violence. But let’s be clear about what Donald Trump is doing tonight in inviting family members who saw a loved one murdered by an undocumented immigrant. He is stirring up fear and hatred against immigrants and trying to divide our nation. That is his political strategy and we must not allow him to get away with it.
Why didn't Trump invite the family of Srinvas Kuchibhotla, the immigrant from India, who was recently shot down in cold blood by a white, native born American? Didn't his life count? Why didn't he invite the families of the black parishioners shot down in a church in South Carolina by racist Dylan Roof? Weren't their lives important?
President Trump, any murder is a tragedy. Don't use these tragedies to stir up divisions by race and nationality.
But Rodrigo Macias, Duran's fiance, praised Trump after receiving his telephone call. "It tells you a lot about this president," he told the Southern California News Group on March 15. Trump was critical of immigrants in the country illegally, referring to "these criminals that are roaming around the cities, and us not being protected as American citizens."
Duran was driving home from church in Los Angeles when Estuardo Alvarado, a Mexican immigrant with a record of arrests and deportations, crashed into her at an intersection, according to police. The 42-year-old mother of two died at the scene.
Alvarado has been charged with five felony counts, including murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. He entered a plea of not guilty to all charges.
Unlike Macias, Duran's parents are opposed to linking immigration and crime. Her father, Santos Duran, expressed sympathy with "people that are here already and settled here already and have families already and have their kids in school. I worry for those people."
Her mother, Carmen Duran, believes the tragedy "doesn't have to be about immigration ... There are people who are from here and they go out and kill other people, too. It's not only people from Mexico or anything like that. It just happened to be that he's from Mexico."