Texas angel parents say state leaders aren’t doing enough to stop illegal immigration

By Bethany Blankley

With the March 1 primary election approaching, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott held his first news conference with Angel parents to discuss illegal immigration.

The term "Angel families" used families of Americans killed by illegal immigrants and illegal drugs distributed in the United States by Mexican cartels.

"Lives are tragically being lost and communities are being devastated because of the open border policies put in place by President Biden," Abbott said at the Friday event. "These lax policies invite crime and contraband into our communities because dangerous actors can more easily enter our country and wreak havoc on innocent families."

Last year, Abbott was the first governor to begin building a border wall and authorize $3 billion to fund state-led border security efforts. Last March, he launched a border security initiative, Operation Lone Star, which has led to nearly 9,000 felony charges, over 11,000 criminal arrests, and more than 200,000 apprehensions.

But Angel dad Dan Golvuch of Houston, who wasn’t invited to the event, said, “This sudden enthusiasm for the border and for immigration issues is just theater. It’s a bit too little, too late.”

Abbott, who’s running for a third term, this time against seven Republican challengers, could face a run-off election. His top two challengers, former Congressman and Republican Party of Texas Chair, Lt. Col. Allen West (Ret.) and former state Sen. Don Huffines, argue he had the opportunity to lead and secure the border seven years ago but didn’t.

Obama-era policies ushered in an unprecedented number of illegal immigrants and crime into Texas when Abbott first became governor. These numbers were surpassed last year after President Joe Biden took office.

Abbott had to have known Biden would reinstate Obama-era open border policies and didn’t prepare, or didn’t see it coming, his critics argue. His first ever town hall in the border town of Del Rio, Texas, was in June 2021. This was after neighboring Kinney County issued a disaster declaration two months prior, setting a chain reaction among counties to put pressure on Abbott to act.

Abbott has yet to visit Kinney County, which has made the most arrests of illegal immigrants of any county by far.

Maria Espinoza, co-founder of Houston-based The Remembrance Project, the only national organization dedicated to being “a voice for victims killed by illegal aliens,” met with Abbott in 2015. She and conservative grassroots leaders urged him to create an inter-state compact to enlist help from other states.

In June 2021, six years later, Abbott announced an interstate compact with Arizona, soliciting help from other governors.

“If he had acted in 2015, he could have changed the entire trajectory of illegal immigration,” Espinoza said.

Espinoza and other Remembrance Project leaders weren’t invited to Abbott’s event, located in Montgomery County, roughly 45 minutes north of Houston. Abbott returned to the primarily Republican County, where he was recently booed by Trump supporters and whose Republican Executive Committee unanimously voted to censure him in July 2020 for “repeatedly creating law via executive order,” among other reasons.

“I live 20 minutes from the capital and Abbott goes to Conroe and meets with family members from other states. And we weren’t even notified,” Angel Dad Fred Funderburgh said.

“There’s a big problem with illegal immigration,” he added. “I never realized how bad it was until my son and daughter-in-law were killed by an illegal with a prior DWI conviction.”

“We’re here to support families by being a voice for their loved ones who should still be here pursuing their American dream,” Maria Espinoza said. “We can’t bring them back, but we can help prevent Americans from being killed by illegal aliens and raise awareness about illegal immigration that’s crippling America.”

On January 31, 2015, Spencer Golvuch, 25, was sitting in his car at a stoplight one mile from his home. The next day, he planned to be at the grand opening of the music store he’d worked multiple jobs to build. But a Mexican national who’d been deported four times and entered the U.S. illegally a fifth time “randomly pulled up next to him and blew his brains out – for fun,” his father told The Center Square.

Spencer’s killer, Victor Rodriguez Reyes, had a 15-year-long criminal record. Instead of being given a longer sentence after he tried to murder a fellow inmate, he was released early from prison, and later went on a shooting spree.

“My government murdered my son. I mean it. It’s the truth,” Golvuch said.

After killing two and injuring three, Reyes was ultimately shot and killed by a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy.

On June 26, 2016, Billy Wayne Funderburgh, 45, and his wife, Natalee, 38, were riding their motorcycle when they were run into from behind by a driver speeding over 100 miles an hour. The impact was so great, the car’s front bumper wrapped around the motorcycle and Billy and Natalee were wedged up under the car. They were pushed down the road a distance the length of two football fields by a driver with no driver’s license, no car registration, and a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit.

Their killer, Rodolfo Campuzano, a Mexican national in the U.S. illegally, was arrested and charged on two counts of intoxicated manslaughter. He’d previously been convicted of DWI in Travis County only to “be released so he could go out and kill my son and daughter-in-law,” Fred Funderburgh told said. “The only consolation,” he said, “is they died holding each other. They loved each other so much.” The support he received from Bastrop County law enforcement, the Remembrance Project, Agriculture Secretary Sid Miller, and several lawmakers, was invaluable, he added.

“We tried to get Abbott to get us a statewide Remembrance Day,” Fred Funderburgh said. He also invited Abbott to come to the scene where his son and daughter-in-law were killed, to hold a press conference there “to show everyone how crucial it is that we stop this, to close the border. It’s got to be done.”

Neither happened. Not being invited to the Conroe event wasn’t surprising, Golvuch said. “I didn’t expect him to invite the Remembrance Project because it’s a no compromise organization that demands that American families are put first.” Most of the “Republicans and Democrats in Austin aren’t interested in protecting Texans or Americans,” he added. “All you have to do is look at who’s funding their campaigns.”

Six months after Spencer Golvuch was killed, Californian Kathryn Steinle was killed by a Mexican national and seven-time felon who’d been deported and re-entered the U.S. illegally five times. Steinle’s death, and San Francisco’s Sanctuary City policy, enraged Americans nationwide, prompting politicians, including Abbott, to weigh in.

“Suddenly, Gov. Abbot is out there acting like, ‘well we don’t want this to come to Texas,’ when he already knew it was happening in Texas,” Golvuch said. “Maria Espinoza had already met with him to ask him for a statewide Day of Remembrance for Americans killed by illegal aliens and had already told him about my son’s murder.”

Espinoza, who’s been advocating for Angel families since 2009, first testified before the Texas House in 2011 in support of a bill banning Sanctuary Cities in Texas.

In June 2015, Abbott signed a bill addressing a range of border security measures, allocating $800 million to fund them. In 2017, he signed a bill into law banning Sanctuary Cities. But even his remarks about the law appeared to be tone deaf to Texans, his critics argue. Abbott tweeted, “Texas has done its part. Now we need the Federal Government to help in banning sanctuary cities. #KatesLaw,” not #SpencersLaw or any other Texans."

Abbott’s campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment about not using the resources of The Remembrance Project. The nonprofit is currently compiling a database of Americans killed by illegal immigrants since no state or federal database compiles this information. It’s encouraging Americans to submit fatality reports and to join its effort in memorializing slain Americans.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post