Until Nov. 16, 2010, Los Angeles entertainment executive Don Rosenberg considered himself a lifelong liberal and supporter of the Democratic Party.
But the minute he picked up the ringing phone, his life changed forever. The caller was from San Francisco General Hospital. She told him that his 25-year-old son, Drew, a second-year student at Golden Gate School of Law, had been mowed down on his motorcycle by a car that, Rosenberg would later learn, was driven by an illegal immigrant without a license.
Roberto Galo, of Honduras, hit Drew, who was thrown from his motorcycle. Galo reportedly drove forward, rolling over Drew’s body, and then backed over him as well. A bystander had to force Galo to stop his car, which, at that point rested on Drew’s abdomen.
“The coroner told me she didn’t understand why [Drew’s] main artery had ruptured and he had bled out,” Rosenberg said. “She didn’t realize the car had driven back and forth on top of him. He wasn’t going that fast. He would have just had some cuts and bruises. It wasn’t the hit that killed him. It was the run.”
In the end, Galo served only 43 days in jail in 2012, on charges of vehicular manslaughter and driving without a license. Rosenberg was told Galo wouldn’t be deported because “he had only committed one crime of moral turpitude.”
Anguish into action
Drew’s death galvanized his grieving father. Rosenberg, now 68, became an advocate for people who are victims of crimes committed by illegal aliens. He was then angered by what he calls lax illegal immigration policies under the Obama and, especially, Biden administrations.
Rosenberg launched a victims’ support group, Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime (AVIAC). He also helped ensure victims were given an official role within ICE to voice their concerns with the establishment, under President Donald Trump, with the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office (VOICE).
“The reality is, an office that was just for victims of illegal-alien crimes is now an office for illegal aliens,” Rosenberg said.
Under deportation guidelines Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas instituted in September, illegal immigrants who commit crimes are not automatically deported unless they are deemed a “threat to public safety.”
That phrase is laughable, said Rosenberg, considering how many illegal immigrants commit serious crimes and are released back into the streets.
Rosenberg also accused the Department of Homeland Security and Mayorkas of falsely claiming to have consulted with AVIAC before issuing the new rules — a charge that is apparently backed up in a lawsuit filed last month against the DHS by the states of Montana, Arizona and Ohio that challenges the new ICE policies on deportation.
“DHS and Mayorkas included us in a federal filing saying that they had reached out to AVIAC to discuss the new deportation guidelines — but they never did, not in the least bit,” Rosenberg said. “I was outraged.”
“Mayorkas is a psychopath,” Rosenberg told The Post Tuesday. “He needs to be fired, and he needs to be tried for violating federal law and, if convicted, jailed.”
The DHS did not respond to a request for comment from The Post.
Rosenberg said that before Drew’s death, he could never have imagined being involved with the issue of illegal-immigrant crime and calling out someone like Mayorkas. He still lives in Southern California with his wife and their two other children, whom he prefers not to identify because of the controversy his activism stirs up.
A father’s nightmare
Rosenberg remembers “losing it” the day after he and his wife got the news that Drew had died, when they flew up to San Francisco to identify the body and speak to the coroner about the autopsy.
“I didn’t cry until the day after,” Rosenberg said. “Then I just couldn’t contain myself any longer.”
The facts about Drew’s death were sad, but simple. He had left school for the day and gone to Trader Joe’s to pick up food for dinner. Rosenberg said Drew used a motorcycle in the city because it was easier to get around and park.
A year before Drew’s death, San Francisco’s mayor, Gavin Newsom, now the governor of California, announced a policy relaxing penalties for illegal immigrants driving without a license, a clear violation of state law.
“Driving laws have to be state laws,” Rosenberg said. “This is where Kamala Harris comes in. As the DA [at the time], it was her job to tell Newsom you can’t do this. But she didn’t. This happened when Newsom was going to run for governor and she was going to run for state Attorney General. But they needed a big turnout of Hispanics to vote for them and thought these laws would help.”
He added that, according to the most recent federal data, unlicensed drivers kill 5500 people a year.
Rosenberg, who said he did not vote for Trump, liaised with officials from the incoming Trump administration in December 2016 to help it create VOICE, which opened in April 2017. In June 2021, he got an e-mail from the DHS saying the name of VOICE was being changed to VESL, for Victims, Engagement and Services Line.
A ‘changed’ party
“I used to consider myself a far-left liberal but the way the Democrats act today they’ve practically put me into QAnon. I’m joking of course. I’m not a conservative,” Rosenberg said. “My views haven’t changed but the Democratic Party has.”
Ironically, Rosenberg added, the Trump administration was the only place where he feels his group got a fair shake.
“No Democrat has ever spoken to us,” he said. “But they listen to hundreds of advocates for illegal immigration.”
The media, he said, has largely moved in lockstep with the Democratic agenda.
“If you were an actual alien from another planet and read the last five years of the LA Times you would think that illegal aliens are the victims of a horrible racist country and they have done no wrong — but all the racists in the US want them deported even though they are wonderful and everything they do is so beneficial for the US,” he said.
But Rosenberg can point to one triumph. After first being told by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office that Galo, the man who fatally struck his son, was in the country legally, Rosenberg got an e-mail 11 months later from an ICE agent who told him that Galo, who had been in the US for 10 years, was here illegally.
Galo was deported back to Honduras in 2013. Rosenberg does not know of his current whereabouts.
Rosenberg, meanwhile, said his activism has taken a personal toll.
“It’s destroyed my life and hurt my family,” Rosenberg said of his activism. “What I do has harmed them. I know that. But I don’t think I could have stood by and done nothing. I felt when I started this that if someone else had done this before, my son would be alive. At the same time, illegal immigration is worse today than it ever has been.”