In July, 93-year-old native Nebraskan Louise Sollowin was brutally murdered in the home she lived in for more than 70 years. She was beaten and raped, allegedly by a 19-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico.
Sergio Martinez-Perez, who is charged with her murder, was expected to begin his pretrial proceedings on Friday. He had been living in the United States illegally for more than four months working as a roofer before he was apprehended.
No matter how the court proceedings play out, Sollowin's family, friends and community want to make sure that what happened to her is not repeated or forgotten. They are demanding immigration enforcement and an end to sanctuary policies across the country that protect illegal migrants, according to the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR), which is hosting a rally Friday in remembrance of Sollowin and the thousands of other victims to similar crimes. Her grandson will be speaking at the event.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) will be at the rally and is angry and frustrated that Sollowin met such a tragic death, which he said was preventable. (Watch the coverage of the rally by KMTV in Omaha).
King, who is an outspoken critic of illegal immigration and current immigration reform measures, is expected to be joined by thousands of residents and dignitaries at the Hall of Justice in Omaha to draw attention to what he describes as "unnecessary deaths."
"What happened is so horrific I can't even talk about the details," King told TheBlaze in an interview Thursday. "Imagine the suffering of her family. There are thousands of victims just like Louise across the country. There isn't a day that goes by that a U.S. citizen doesn't die or isn't harmed at the hands of an illegal immigrant."
According to news reports, Sollowin had "blunt force trauma, broken cheekbones, head injuries, broken teeth, broken ribs and a broken nose." The police report also stated that there was blood on "walls, floor, ceiling and bed," according to the local Iowa papers.
King said the federal government's failure to deport illegal immigrants, even those with criminal backgrounds, is the problem. He said it's also the failure of his colleagues in Congress to speak out, businesses who don't abide by the law and a bureaucracy that refuses to follow the rules.
He told TheBlaze that he is willing to stand up for American victims of illegal immigration and will not allow his opponents to scare him off by using the "race card because it just doesn't stick."
"I don't speak of this in terms of race," said King, who added that American's are made up of all cultures and walks of life. "If I feared being called a racist -- like some of my colleagues -- I wouldn't say anything. What I'm saying is factual."
King added, "I continually hear how many people die trying to come into the U.S. through the Mexican desert...but how many American's die at the hands of those who did make it across that desert? No one ever asks that question."
Doug Kagan, president of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, said in a statement that Sollowin "is a tragic reminder of why we have immigration laws and why those laws need to be enforced by the federal government and reinforced by local authorities."
"Instead, we have an administration in Washington that is providing de facto amnesty for people like Martinez-Perez, and local governments in Nebraska and across the country providing sanctuary to illegal aliens," Kagan said. "Most illegal aliens are not violent criminals, but the policies being carried out by the Obama administration and sanctuary cities make it possible for dangerous criminals to prey upon innocent citizens, and that must stop."