Rep. Andy Biggs has introduced a bill that would prevent federal authorities from allowing undocumented immigrants who stand accused or convicted of serious crimes to walk the streets.
The fact that we need legislation to accomplish this is astounding, but apparently we do.
Otherwise Grant Ronnebeck might still be among us.
In January 2015, the 21-year-old Quik Trip clerk was murdered over a pack of cigarettes.
Mesa police arrested Apolinar Altamirano, a convicted felon who was in the country illegally and awaiting deportation at the time of Ronnebeck’s murder. Altamirano had been allowed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to walk the streets for two years while awaiting his deportation hearing.
It didn’t matter that he was a felon, convicted in 2013 on a burglary charge.
It didn’t matter that two orders of protection had been filed against him, including one from a woman who said he’d threatened to kill her and pointed a gun at her boyfriend.
It just plain didn’t matter.
To anyone, that is, but the Ronenbeck family. They just didn’t know it until 4 a.m. on Jan. 22, 2015. Police say Altamirano walked into a Mesa QuikTrip, dumped a jar of change on the counter and demanded a pack of cigarettes. When Grant wasn’t quick enough to comply, he was murdered. The gunman then stepped over Grant’s body to grab two packs of cigarettes and left.
Grant Ronnebeck was killed on Day 745 of Altamirano’s wait for a deportation hearing.
Since then, Ronnebeck’s father, Steve, has been the one to wait, hoping that the sacrifice of his son might prompt our leaders to finally do something to fix this insanity.
Biggs’ predecessor, then-Rep. Matt Salmon, tried. Shortly after Ronnebeck’s death, he introduced Grant’s Law in Congress, proposing to end the “catch and release” policy that allows the Altamiranos of the world to walk free. It went nowhere.
Now it is left to Biggs to try again.
To figure out a way to hold and more quickly deport serious criminals who aren’t supposed to be here in the first place.
It just shouldn’t be controversial to get these guys off the streets — if not when they’re arrested then at least when they’re convicted.
Yet it’s been two years and still our leaders have done nothing about the inescapable, uncomfortable outrageous fact that the only way to get Apolinar Altamirano off the streets was over Grant Ronnebeck’s dead body.