This Op-Ed by Nicole Malliotakis originally appeared in the Staten Island Advance

In the early hours of Dec. 26, Corporal Ronil Singh of the Newman (California) Police Department was brutally gunned down by an illegal immigrant and alleged gang member during a routine traffic stop. What makes this murder even more tragic is that the alleged murderer had been twice convicted of DUI, yet had never been turned over to ICE for deportation because of California’s Sanctuary State laws. In other words, this was a preventable murder.

When you take into account that Corporal Singh and his family are in fact immigrants who came here legally from Fiji, the tragedy takes on a new and heightened dimension.

In the days that followed Corporal Singh’s murder, Democrats like San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi and California Senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris found time to tweet and issue statements while remaining cynically silent about the cold-blooded murder of a police officer in their own state.

Sadly, Corporal Singh’s name must now be added to the growing list of Americans that includes Kate Steinle, Kayla Cuevas, Nisa Mickens, and Mollie Tibbetts, who were all killed by individuals who were unlawfully in our nation. The most recent victim, 22 year-old Pierce Kennedy Corcoran, was killed by an unlicensed and uninsured illegal immigrant driver on the last Saturday of 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee. The simple fact is, if we had stronger border security in lieu of sanctuary policies that protect those in our country illegally, these six young (average age 23) Americans, would still be alive today.

As the daughter of immigrants from Greece and Castro’s Cuba, I appreciate that the United States has the most generous immigration policy in the world. It is one of the most precious tenets that distinguishes our nation from others and makes emigrating to the U.S. the goal of so many from around the world. But as Democratic President Obama said in 2014, “even as we are a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws.”

For decades, some of those laws have been ignored, respect for our immigration system has crumbled and the numerous issues related to illegal immigration have created a crisis that affects every level of government; from school districts to municipal governments and right up the ladder to the halls of Congress and the White House.

In recent years, it’s become obvious that this system really only benefits the underbelly of society that preys on the immigrant community.

Individuals who may have entered unlawfully in a desperate attempt to grab the American Dream have instead ended up living in the shadows of society; often marginalized and exploited. They do not benefit from open borders.

Having no entry tracking system makes it easy for human traffickers to lure women and young children with promises of a better life. These victims do not benefit from open borders either.

You know who does?

Dangerous predators, like the MS-13 gang members who claimed the lives of Cuevas and Mickens. Known criminals, like the murderers of Singh and Steinle, who, despite previous convictions, were protected from deportation by state and municipal sanctuary policies. Not to mention drug cartels, human traffickers and potential terrorists — these are the law-breakers who benefit from open borders.

Much of the debate in Washington has been about whether we should build a “wall.”

Wall-like barriers along our 2,000 mile long border are important in stopping the flood of uncontrollable crossings, smuggling and trafficking, and we should fund them. But, in reality, barriers take a long time to erect and barriers of steel, concrete and wire will not resolve our immediate crisis.

The new Congress must take immediate action to implement an entry/exit tracking system and enforce E-Verify, the web-based system that allows employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. In addition, we have to crack down on sanctuary cities and modernize the broken immigration system to streamline the process for visas and citizenship.

As President Trump has pointed out, even his political rivals have emphasized the need for strong solutions to this issue. In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama said, “I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration” and in 2009, Senator Chuck Schumer stated “illegal immigration is wrong, plain and simple” and “we must do as much as we can to gain control of our borders as soon as possible.”

I agree. Now let’s see if our newly-seated Congress has the courage to work with President Trump to hammer-out an agreement that will protect and benefit the citizens of our nation and provide those from other countries the opportunity to achieve a better life for themselves and their families.