Editor’s note: In announcing his presidential bid earlier this summer, Donald Trump made a speech in which he said: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” This column is written in response to these statements.
Okay, Donald Trump, I’ve got an article I want you to read.
At least that’s how I felt when I sat down this week with the Sunday paper. But then I wondered, would it help Donald to think more deeply about the people behind his statements, or would it be a waste of my postage stamp?
The story begins last May here in Omaha. A young police officer was shot when she was part of a team attempting to arrest a fugitive on a felony warrant. Omaha is bigger than Anchorage, but it has a small town feel. We haven’t had a police officer killed in the line of duty in 10 years, and never before a female officer. But it was even more gut wrenching than that.
Kerrie Orozco was 29 years old, married with two stepchildren, and in February she’d given birth for the first time. Olivia was premature and had to remain in the hospital for weeks. So, instead of starting her maternity leave in February, Kerrie postponed it until Olivia could come home.
Guess when Olivia’s scheduled date of release was, and the date when Kerrie’s three-month maternity leave would begin? That was scheduled for the day after Kerrie Orozco was killed in an Omaha neighborhood by a guy resisting arrest.
The police chief struggled to get through the press conference announcing her death, and it quickly became clear that Orozco was a special person. A volunteer extraordinaire, she coached baseball to kids in a crime-ridden part of town so that they would see the good side of law enforcement. She was beloved by her fellow cops. And then, of course, there was Olivia.
Orozco was Catholic in a very Catholic town. Her uncle is chancellor of the archdiocese. Her funeral was in the Jesuit church on Creighton University’s campus. The archbishop gave the final blessing. Local television stations broadcast the service live, including the procession to a cemetery in her native Iowa. Thousands lined the processional route. Law enforcement officers came from all over the country.
I have to admit, I cried many tears, especially when I thought of my own new granddaughter and the joy my daughter experienced during her maternity leave. I imagined how excited Kerrie must have been as she responded to her last call, just before the bullet hit her above her vest.
Oh, but Donald Trump? Yes, Donald, I’d like you to know that in a newspaper article just the other day, we learned that the handsome Latino husband Kerrie left behind, the one she’d met when both of them worked security at a bar in an Hispanic neighborhood, the one who helped her with her Spanish so she’d pass the police department’s Spanish exam, that guy, Hector — he came here illegally from Mexico. Yes, in 1999, at the age of 17.
He told the Omaha World Herald, “You don’t run from your country just for fun … you leave for a reason: to have a better life.” Since 2012, Hector Orozco has had legal work status, and he’s on the long, long path to citizenship. Our congressman is trying to make that path shorter by expediting citizenship for spouses of first providers killed in the line of duty, just as it is for spouses of military personnel killed in the line of duty.
Donald, you said you “assume” some nice people come here from Mexico. I’d like you to meet Hector Orozco, a very nice guy, now struggling to raise a hero’s infant daughter right here in the U.S.A.
The writer, formerly from Anchorage, now lives in Omaha, Neb.