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updated 2:54 PM CDT, Jul 28, 2018

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Reporter pursues answers over illegal immigrant crimes

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The most interesting news story in the state right now relates to the politically charged issue of Sanctuary protection for illegal immigrants against the backdrop of a heinous crime committed in Seattle by one illegal and the fact elected officials, particularly the sanctuary supporters, are avoiding media efforts to get answers about the incident.

Brandi KruseBrandi KruseActually, the effort to get answers to the rape of a wheelchair-bound woman in front of her three-year-old by an illegal from Mexico is an effort by one journalist, though she is quick to point out "it's not one reporter but a team working on this together at our station."

KCPQ-TV commentator Brandi Kruse is the leader of a one-media campaign to get a response to questions from officials ranging from Gov. Jay Insley to King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Looking sternly at, or maybe through the camera at the silent elected officials, Kruse suggested to viewers in one broadcast: "those with such fierce support for sanctuary laws would certainly be willing to defend those laws. Not so much. Not so much."

But while Kruse is troubled by the lack of answers, actually the lack of responses other than minimal from representatives of the elected officials, what's equally troubling to me as a journalist is that local media, ranging from the Seattle Times to the region's broadcast outlets, are shying away from coverage of the issue. It's not clear whether they are seeking to avoid red-flagging at least one aspect of the sanctuary issue or whether they don't want to be latecomers to a cause to which a competitor has given significant voice.

Kruse is no young reporter trying to make a name for herself with an issue that could embarrass elected officials.

Rather she brings a list of awards to her regular role as host of "The Divide," a Q-13 Sunday morning commentary that looks for common ground on issues dividing Americans, not a bad goal in an era when divisions have become gaping wounds on the body politic.

Kruse is a nine-time Edward R Murrow Award recipient for excellence in journalism and a four-time Emmy nominee for her work covering veterans, the opioid epidemic, and the effort to reform Seattle's police department.

What she has been pressing elected officials for are answers on how do the sanctuary policies they have proudly put in place allow illegals like 35-year Francisco Carranza-Ramirez to be protected by the system. Ramirez, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was convicted of raping a White Center handicapped woman, got off with an incredible nine-month sentence that included time already served then tracked his victim down, pushing her out of her wheelchair and strangling and beating her in front of her young son.

Inslee made sure, as he hits the road on the extended role in the Democratic presidential sweepstakes, that he will get plaudits for ensuring, by a decree issued in May, that his state is one of a handful of sanctuary states.

How appropriate if he got a question from a reporter on the campaign trail along the lines of whether he had included any safeguards for his state's citizens against any criminal element among those illegal immigrants, then site the Ramirez case.  

Turns out the King County Superior Court judge who imposed the sentence said she was prohibited by law from asking Ramirez about his immigration status, a comment that may or may not be accurate.

Now Ramirez is home in Mexico and Kruse has been advised by a spokesperson for the court that there are warrants out for him through which he could be extradited back to this state to face more severe charges on the second rape (I could say alleged because he hasn't been tried but let's give the handicapped woman the courtesy of belief).

So the email Kruse got back from the court spokesperson should follow Inslee on the campaign trail, since he refuses to personally address the question at home. Although after some prodding, his staff recently said they would look into the situation.

The county has felony warrants out for the rapist, but it is unknown if he will be extradited. Kruse wanted to speak with the judge, Nicole Gaines Phelps, to ask about the likelihood of extradition. This is the response she received from the court's communications director, as she outlined on her Q13 show, The Divide.

"He does have warrants out, but we probably won't be exercising the extradition process," said the spokesperson, then closed the email with a winky face emoji.

"That's how our judge's spokesperson responded - a winky face emoji?" Kruse questioned. "A winky face emoji was used to help explain why they won't extradite a convicted rapist who was in the country illegally and allegedly attacked someone?

As Kruse questioned in her commentary: "Could the law be written in such a way that it doesn't provide sanctuary for criminals?"

"Like how dare you fail to give answers," she pressed elected officials. "Get thicker skin. Get the courage to defend what you believe in."
The entries she has gotten on her Facebook page by the dozens indicate broad agreement with her effort to get answers. Too bad other local media don't care to enter the hunt for answers.

Of course, there have been expressions of anger from sanctuary supporters who think it unfair to questions sanctuary policy that makes it difficult to determine where criminals may be hiding among the illegal immigrants.

Perhaps it's appropriate to focus on this issue as we celebrate the nation's birthday, honoring the date in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed since it seems like the appropriate time to celebrate the American dream framed by that declaration, as well as give thought to who gets to dream it.

As I wrote last July 4th in a column that upset some of my conservative friends, as this one will irritate some of my liberal friends, two things made me think of that. The first was a feature from Geekwire, the Seattle-based technology news site, focusing on the American Dream that guided immigrant entrepreneurs and tech leaders to this country and success. The second was a poem written by an immigrant fifth grader in San Diego about a conversation between "The Wall and Lady Liberty."

The Geekwire interviews had the tech execs explaining why they chose the U.S. as a place to build their lives, families, and dreams and thus were able to fulfill their American dream and became highly successful.  

The second was having a chance to read the poem by Guadalupe Chavez after a prominent immigration-attorney friend of mine in San Diego, Kimberley Robidoux, who is a judge in an essay event for immigrant fifth graders from around the nation, told me about the contest and the San Diego youngster who took second in the nation.

Robidoux, a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's San Diego Chapter and a judge in the Celebrate America Creative Writing Contest, explained to me that the contest challenges fifth graders across the country to reflect on and write about the theme "Why I Am Glad America Is a Nation of Immigrants."

It was my quoting Guadalupe's essay conversation in which Lady Liberty is questioning the wall about why it needed to be there that upset some of my conservative friends. My reaction was "let a fifth grader have the freedom to ponder being glad America is a nation of immigrants."

Certainly, there are children among the illegal immigrants, as with legal immigrant kids like Guadalupe, who have a right to dream the American Dream that it might sometime come to pass for them. 

But my reaction to my liberal friends who may find offense at this column, which is sure to happen to those in Seattle, is: "If you create and believe in the concept of sanctuary, have the courage to defend your actions when the flaws emerge. Have the courage to insist on fixing the flaws in the face of hostility from your friends who find themselves locked into politics over substance.

Except people like Governor Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine disappoint by being leaders of the politics-over-substance crowd.

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