In life, the farmers exploited her.
In death, the activists are exploiting her.
They found her dead and decomposed, in a trash bag, between two logs in the woods.
She was 18.
There is no sign of her 14-month-old son.
She came to America at 16, in her second trimester, to work the fields. Illegal, across the border. Either the river in Texas or the dry desert farther west. A girl from Guatemala who died in New York.
And yesterday, with signs and press releases, they blamed Trump.
And talk radio and white supremacists and the Republican Party and xenophobes and anybody who didn’t think or vote like them.
It was anti-immigrant rhetoric that killed her, they said, and they denounced “the myth of criminal immigrants” and said that “we are safer with immigrants among us.”
If they’re talking about Italian grandmothers, they’re right. If they’re talking about Alberto Reyes, they’re wrong.
Alberto Reyes – or whatever fake name he’s giving authorities these days – was deported twice back to Mexico. When they caught him this time, he had a fake Social Security card and a fake immigrant identification card, and they’ve got hours of trail cam pictures of him in and out of the woods with a shovel on the day Selena died.
In and out of the woods to the two logs where the deputies found her crumpled and dead.
They had tied up a few months before at a dairy farm, and then moved to an apple farm, where he beat her.
Then she disappeared and the cadaver dog got a hit on the doorway of the quarters they shared.
And now she is dead and the sheriff fears that her little boy is, too.
And that’s Trump’s fault, say the people using her death to advance their politics.
Which is just as cynical and selfish as the farmers who used a teen-aged girl with a baby to do their scut work. How can you have a coddled daughter in your own home and send someone else’s daughter out to shovel the manure of your cows? How can one girl go to the prom and another to the fields? How can school be right for one teen-ager and the orchard right for another?
Is there no consideration of the basic humanity of those who prune the trees and milk the cows? Is it not possible to see the needs of a beaten girl with a baby above the needs of teat dip and tillage?
A man who wants to work is one thing, a teen mother who has no other option is another.
And there is a moral stain that attaches to those who employ those who conscience says they should serve.
As there is a moral stain that attaches to those who exploit tragedy and suffering to advance their partisan agenda. To turn a stolen life into a political opportunity is a desecration.
And what those activists did is lie.
Because if our border was secure – if we controlled who came in and out – Selena Hidalgo-Calderon would be alive today.
If her twice-deported illegal-alien boyfriend had met a wall at the border instead of a nation grabbing its ankles, he would have been turned away and she would have been safe.
The truth is that this horror illustrates exactly why the scourge of illegal immigration can’t be tolerated in America. Open borders allowed a hard-working young woman in, but they also allowed her suspected killer in as well. To point to her, but ignore him, is dishonest. And to claim that he is an exception or anomaly is also dishonest.
The sad reality is that there may be millions of Alberto Reyeses walking among us.
Just as there may be millions of Selena Hidalgo-Calderons.
Which illustrates why the continued failure of the two political parties to resolve this is a sin and a tragedy.
In the sad death of this young mother is illustrated both sides of America’s illegal immigration problem. A young woman came here illegally trying to work and better her life. A young man came here illegally to prey upon us and commit crime.
We must find a way to welcome the one and bar the other.
We can offer sanctuary to one, yet expel the other.
And doing so should be possible in a society like ours.
But the Republican and Democratic parties refuse to solve this problem. And that’s because it’s not a problem for them – it’s a goldmine. It’s a wedge issue which – unresolved and divisive – brings them money and votes. It galvanizes their supporters and fires up their base. It pays off for them every Election Day.
Just as it tears down our country every other day.
Beyond putting Americans at one another’s throats, our current system of flawed and unenforced immigration laws lets criminals in, keeps good people out, allows for workplace exploitation and depressed wages, forces employers and workers into an illegal economy, and debases our belief in the rule of law.
All because politicians won’t solve the problem.
The Democrats had the White House and Congress, and did nothing. The Republicans had the White House and Congress, and did nothing.
And America suffered.
And that’s why Selena Hidalgo-Calderon is dead.
Not because we enforce immigration laws, but because we don’t.
And because neither Democrats nor Republicans will fix those laws to meet the needs and values of our country.
This sad story is the illegal-alien issue in a nutshell.
And it may never change.