Santa Maria, California—site of the brutal rape and murder of an Air Force veteran—is a case study of what happens when the federal government won’t enforce immigration laws or drug laws.
About five hours south of San Francisco, where Kate Steinle was murdered in broad daylight by an illegal immigrant, another illegal immigrant has been charged with raping and savagely beating an Air Force veteran to death with a hammer. According to police, Marilyn Pharis, 64, was sleeping in her Santa Maria, California home in the late morning — after having worked the night shift as a satellite tracker at nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base — when an illegal immigrant named Victor Aureliano Martinez and his accomplice Jose Fernando Villagomez broke into her house, raped her, strangled her, and bludgeoned her “mercilessly” with a hammer. She died eight days later.
The commander of the Air Force’s 50th Space Wing, where Pharis worked, called her death a “tragic loss.”
Martinez — originally from Durango, Mexico — had been arrested six times in the past 15 months. But he was roaming free, thanks in part to the Obama administration’s lax view of deportation, its refusal to enforce federal drug laws, and its determination to reduce prison sentences for nonviolent crimes. California’s parallel efforts contributed as well.
Santa Maria police chief Ralph Martin says, “I believe there’s a blood trail from Washington, D.C. to Sacramento into the bedroom of Marilyn.”
Santa Maria, population 102,000, is exactly the sort of place where the I-95 open-borders crowd ought to spend some time before they continue to conspire, Gang of Eight-like, to make our immigration problems even worse. Perhaps they would then finally start to appreciate the ill-effects of illegal immigration (much of which starts out as legal) and the lack of assimilation that inevitably results when immigration is both lawless and excessive.
Steve LeBard is a business owner in Santa Maria who lives in the town of Orcutt, which borders Santa Maria to the south. With some help from THE WEEKLY STANDARD, he fought and won a battle against the California Department of Transportation to hang an American flag near the entrance to charming Old Town Orcutt, but he has yet to prevail in his effort to build a privately funded memorial to veterans on that same site. LeBard emailed a few thoughts in the wake of this brutal murder of an innocent Air Force veteran:
“Most people that live in the Santa Maria area believe that Santa Maria is an unofficial ‘sanctuary city.’ I disagree. I believe Santa Maria is a Mexican city — of sorts. A large part of the city speaks Spanish and has no interest in learning English — with many businesses advertising in Spanish only. These people speak of returning to Mexico someday — bringing their new-found prosperity with them — they don’t want to be Americans….
“What does this have to do with this vicious murder? It’s simple — if you’re here illegally you don’t rock the panga — you don’t cooperate with the police and you don’t report crime. You create a haven for criminals — gangs that prey on the mostly good people that are here working the farms….
“Santa Maria is the perfect storm when it comes to illegal immigration. It is a community that has it resources overwhelmed by people coming here with knowledge of how to work the system. They have it down pat, from taxes to social services to free buses to the fields. They use the local hospital emergency room as their primary-care physician. (I’m a Vietnam veteran; if I go to the VA Clinic and there is something wrong with me, they put me on a four-hour bus to Los Angeles. If I’m a Mexican (as in Mexican citizen), I go to the emergency room and the hospital negates the bill — passes it on to me…a U.S. taxpayer.)
“A local farmer recently told me that the workers all line up when it’s time to pass out the tax forms, knowing that the more dependents they claim, the higher the refund check [from the child tax credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit] from the federal government — it’s a cash cow — sometimes thousands more than they ever paid in….
“My town is broke, broken and crime-ridden — whose fault is this?…the illegal immigrant, the farmer, the politician? It certainly comes from a lack of American leadership — like the Chief said it goes all the way to Washington….”
© 2015 Weekly Standard LLC. Reprinted with permission.