The two teenagers accused of raping a ninth-grader at Maryland’s Rockville High School last month were among more than 150,000 unaccompanied minors who entered the U.S. illegally over the past three years, mostly from Central America.
Like most other Central Americans who are under 18 years old and travel alone illegally to the U.S., the suspects, Jose Montano, now 17, and Henry Sanchez Milian, now 18, were placed briefly into federal custody upon making it across the border with Mexico. Officials then permitted them to join relatives in the interior of the country.
From there, Montano, living with his uncle, and Sanchez Milian, residing with his father, settled in the Maryland suburbs. They enrolled in a public high school—which like all public schools is required to admit illegal immigrants, due to a Supreme Court ruling—as they waited for their day in the country’s overburdened immigration court system.
Montano is originally from El Salvador and Sanchez Milian came from Guatemala. Both suspects say they are innocent of the charges against them.
Rockville High School, part of the Montgomery County school system, is about 20 miles from the White House.
Though illegal immigration has dropped in the early months of President Donald Trump’s administration, the Rockville High School rape case renewed an effort by advocates for tougher enforcement to make it easier to quickly deport Central American minors who illegally travel here alone. That class of minors currently enjoys unique protection in the U.S. due to federal law and court rulings.
“President [Barack] Obama’s lax enforcement of the law and executive amnesty programs encouraged hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America to make the dangerous trek to the United States,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told The Daily Signal. “Fortunately, the Trump administration is taking a number of important steps to reduce illegal immigration and we are already seeing results.”
While the executive branch is making good progress, we also still need to improve our immigration laws. The House Judiciary Committee plans to take up legislation to address many issues that fueled the border surge.