San Bernardino has become one more American city that will be remembered for being the site of a mass shooting. A year ago this month in California’s Inland Empire, a terrorist couple, armed with pipe bombs, handguns, rifles and more than a thousand rounds of ammunition, killed 14 people, wounded 22 and then were killed in a police shootout. They left behind their newborn baby to grow up without parents and with a legacy of terrorism.
The massacre was at a holiday party in the Inland Regional Center, a state-run social services agency, where the husband in the terrorist duo worked. According to ABC reporting this month, the wife, a Pakistani native who came to California on a fiancé visa, “objected to the Christmas setting and was upset her husband had to go.” Apparently in the narrow and radical worldview she held, a Muslim should not have to participate in a non-Muslim holiday or event.
|San Bernardino remembers victims of December 2015 terrorist attack.|
Victims were remembered last week with prayers, flowers, candles, signs and U.S. flags in a memorial gathering. Through a maniacal act of extremist, ISIS-inspired thinking, the families, friends and colleagues of those murdered – and an entire community – will grieve for years to come, impacted in ways they never would have been imagined before December 2, 2015. As one mourner recalled, “That was the day San Bernardino was silenced. The streets were silent. No one was out. I’ll never forget that day.”
The incomprehensibility of the acts of these two killers remains, as it does with all acts of terror. And tragically 2016 brought multiple acts of terror to the United States. This summer in Orlando, Florida, a terrorist killed 49 people and injured 53. This terrorist was born in New York, and his father had emigrated from Afghanistan to the U.S. in the 1980s.
In September, bombings in New Jersey and New York were carried out by the son of a man who had sought U.S. asylum in 1995 from Afghanistan. The family operated a restaurant in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and had sued the city and the police department in 2011 for “discrimination and harassment against Muslims stemming from disputes over the restaurant’s hours,” according to CNN.
And at the end of November, 18-year-old Abdul Razak Ali Artan injured 11 people on the Ohio State University campus in a car and knife attack before being killed by a police officer. Artan emigrated with his family from Somalia, by way of Pakistan, to the U.S. two years ago. This was the second terrorist attack in Ohio this year.
Since the San Bernardino terrorist attack, United Way has distributed $2.5 million to the families of victims and those injured in that attack. While that has helped, it’s been insufficient according to NPR, which reported that some survivors are experiencing a second trauma. Some of them say they are not receiving needed support, including medication for depression and counseling, and that they are fighting to get surgeries and physical therapy approved. Coverage falls to workers’ compensation, since the attack happened at the workplace. San Bernardino County agencies alone spent an estimated $20 million responding to the mass shooting last December. The costs of terrorism are emotional, physical and financial.
California’s answer after the terrorist attack was to call for tougher gun laws, but not for better immigration laws – or enforcement of immigration laws. Since the terrorist attacks on New York City that took down the World Trade Center and on Washington, D.C., elected leadership in D.C. and across the country has basically stayed the course with a laissez-faire immigration policy.
Too many elected officials – either out of flawed ideology, group think or both – have been accepting of what they apparently deem acceptable collateral damage – the loss of lives at the hands of terrorists and by people who are not in the country legally, and broken lives of all those who have lost their loved ones, their friends and their colleagues through acts of terrorism on U.S. soil and crimes committed by illegal aliens.
Last month’s election, in part, was fury against an immigration system that works against American citizens. Let’s hope that the new Trump administration moves fast at normalizing our immigration system – certainly faster than the trial of Enrique Marquez has moved. Marquez was the friend of the San Bernardino terrorists who is charged with purchasing some of the weapons used in the attack. His trial doesn't start until later next year, more than a year and a half after the slaughter.