E Pluribus Unum. Out of many one.
That motto was submitted to the Continental Congress in August 1776 in the process of developing a seal of the United States of America. Today, that phrase is seen on our currency and wherever the official seal of the U.S. is used.
To some, the phrase is nothing but a nicety. To others, its meaning serves as the foundation of our nation, and candidly, a civil society.
The value of our nation's motto recently was put to the test. A 14-year-old Maryland high school student was raped at her school at 9 a.m. in a boys bathroom. Montgomery County Police charged two suspects — as adults — with first-degree rape and two counts each of committing a first-degree sexual offense against their classmate.
Henry Sanchez, 18, and Jose Montano, 17, are undocumented immigrants from Central America who were placed in the ninth grade. According to the Washington Times, they began their taxpayer-funded public education in the fall of 2016 and "were enrolled in the Multidisciplinary Educational Training and Support program for English language learners with limited or no previous schooling."
The victim's family and community are seeking answers. Clearly, the school failed. And so did our immigration system.
Henry Sanchez was caught at America's southern border just days before his 18th birthday last year. Instead of being returned to Guatemala, he was given a court date because of his underage status and was placed in Maryland with a family member through the Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to CNN. He was attending Rockdale High School as he awaited a court appearance in connection with his illegal border crossing.
The immigration status of the second suspect is shielded from public disclosure to protect his standing as a minor. Yet, local media accounts report Jose Montano was caught crossing from Mexico into Texas in April 2016 as a 16-year-old from El Salvador and claimed he was looking for his uncle.
Neither of these young men nor their family members in Maryland have provided proof of obtaining legal citizenship.
Local systems failed to protect an innocent child of a law-abiding family. The parents, their daughter and other local school parents and children have fallen victim to political correctness that transcends effective policy. If a school enrolls a 17- and an 18-year-old as freshmen in high school with 14-year-olds, the notion of age-appropriate socialization is ignored. Schools appear to be free of common sense.
But the state itself seems to be free of common sense. Less than two weeks after the rape, the Maryland House of Delegates voted to establish its state as a "sanctuary state."
The Democratically controlled state house recently passed legislation that will "bar state and local law enforcement from helping federal immigration officials seeking illegals, including requests to detain inmates for deportation." In other words, Maryland won't enforce federal immigration laws if this becomes state law.
Rockdale High School has a "five-person security team and around 105 security cameras." Yet, the idiocy of school policy, defiance of existing laws and the fealty to political correctness over safety and common sense created a horrific situation.
Societal systems fail due to failed leadership and a lack of standards.
Legal immigration, assimilation and law enforcement must be standards that are established, observed and enforced. Otherwise, our e pluribus is anything but "unum," and dangerously so.
Robin Smith, a former chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, owns Rivers Edge Alliance.