WASHINGTON - During his White House press briefing on Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer addressed the recent alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl by two fellow classmates inside a Maryland high school, calling it “horrendous, horrible and disgusting.”
“This is a tragic event and it is horrendous and horrible and disgusting what this young woman in Rockville went through. I can’t possibly imagine,” Spicer said.
He added, “School should be a place where a parent puts their child on a bus or drops them off or sees them off and know that they are safe.”
The two suspects charged in this case, 17-year-old Jose Montano and 18-year-old Henry Sanchez, are accused of sexually assaulting the victim in a bathroom at Rockville High School in Montgomery County. Despite being much older than the victim, they were both registered as freshman at Rockville High School.
Sanchez is from Guatemala and is currently under a deportation order. Montano is from El Salvador. Both suspects have been in the United States for between 7 and 8 months, and neither have prior criminal records.
Currently, schools are prohibited from denying access to public education based on immigration status. FOX 5’s Ronica Cleary asked Spicer if President Donald Trump believes this should change or be addressed in the future.
“To know that this happened and the circumstances – that this young woman, in particular, fought to come to this country legally because of the freedoms and the treasures of this nation, and to think that this kind of tragedy would occur to someone who has personally endured that kind of struggle to come to this nation and then face this is reprehensible, and it is not who we are as a country,” said Spicer. “I think it is troubling, and I think further to your question, the president recognizes that education is a state-run and a local-run issue, but I think it is cause for concern what happened there. And I think the city should look at its policies, and I think that this is something that authorities are going to have to look at.
“I think from an immigration standpoint, clearly to see somebody – there are so many facets of this case that deserve question. Why was there – I think he was 17 or 18 years old … How does that person get put into the ninth grade? There are so many issues that come up in this case. I will leave it to authorities to get through, but I think that we are in the early stages of this and there is a lot that needs to get addressed with respect to this case in particular.”
Spicer said this incident shows why President Trump has made illegal immigration a priority issue.
"I think part of the reason that the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this," the press secretary said. "We act so many times and we talk about this and say, 'Why is the president dealing with this and because of this priority? Well, part of the reason is because the tragedy that this young girl dealt with, had inflicted upon her ... this is why he's passionate about this. Because people are victims of these crimes in terms of – they are victims of the economic pieces, there is national security. But immigration pays its toll on our people if it is not done legally. This is another example and it is why the president is so passionate about his."
Spicer also said the president believes local jurisdictions need to be tougher on people who are in the country illegally.
"He recognizes it is multi-faceted – why we have to be tough at the border, why I just read off that this executive order is dealing with people who have committed crimes who local enforcement agencies or municipalities at the state level are not dealing with this," said Spicer. "If you go to the ICE website and download this, you will see it is over 30-something pages of cases where there is a person who is convicted of a crime that local people, local municipals and law enforcement, for whatever reason – in some cases they are prohibited – but for one reason or another are not enforcing the law and not turning that individual over to federal authorities to be deported and I think this is another example this issue needs to be addressed."