Published Monday, Apr. 25, 2016, 1:20 pm

Sarah Root and Joshua Wilkerson were like many young people you might know. Sarah just graduated from college and Joshua was a senior in high school. Both had much life left to live. But instead of living out their potential, they are two of the many innocent victims of the irresponsible policies of the Obama Administration that allow the presence of dangerous criminal aliens in American communities. At a Judiciary Committee hearing last week, we heard the heartbreaking stories of their deaths at the hands of unlawful aliens. Unfortunately, these stories are an all-too-common reality.

The public has been misled by the policies of the Administration, which categorize only certain “serious” criminal aliens as worthy of immigration enforcement. The Administration’s so-called immigration enforcement priorities have allowed tens of thousands of criminal aliens to stay in the United States. At least 95 percent of convicted criminal aliens known to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are not detained. The fact remains that illegal immigration has consequences – it is not a victimless crime. Yet, these consequences would be largely avoidable if this Administration would just enforce the law.

Alarmingly, those trying to enforce the law cannot! Recently, Brandon Judd, head of the Border Patrol union, testified that DHS has established a policy requiring Border Patrol agents to release unlawful immigrants apprehended at the border “still soaking wet from crossing the river” and not place them in removal proceedings. Within days of his testimony, the Judiciary Committee was informed that a manager within the Border Patrol submitted a complaint for alleged misconduct against Judd. This raises serious questions of retaliation, and I have called on Secretary Johnson to ensure that no DHS employee or contractor will be targeted for voicing legitimate concerns.

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a case challenging President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. I was pleased to play a leading role in support of this lawsuit to stop the President, and I hope the court agrees with our argument. In the meantime, the Judiciary Committee has also passed legislation that provides much needed tools for federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws and protect the public.

By releasing known criminal aliens and refusing to secure our border, the Administration has sent a clear message to the American people that their safety and security are far less important than ensuring that these individuals remain here. I want to see these dangerous policies stopped, and I will continue working to stand in the way of President Obama’s pen and phone. The real costs of illegal immigration are something no family should be forced to pay.

Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth District of Virginia in Congress.