A Democratic congressman challenging Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz for his seat downplayed crime by illegal immigrants just days before a 12-year-old Texas girl was allegedly sexually assaulted and strangled to death by two illegal migrants.

Speaking on a talk radio show in early June about various political issues in the upcoming 2024 elections, Texas Democrat Rep. Colin Allred and host Dean Obeidallah touched on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border, and particularly about how border issues relate to crime. While he acknowledged that various international issues – such as the economic collapse of Venezuela and the gang takeover of Haiti – have “put a strain” on border communities, the Democrat lawmaker also pushed back on the idea that immigrant crime was of particular concern to everyday Texans.

“But, you’ll also hear Texans in our border communities, whether it’s Brownsville, or Laredo, or El Paso, who will not, who will tell you that this idea that their communities are just, you know, riven with crime is completely wrong, right, and that that’s not their experience,” Allred said on June 5. “And that’s not their community.”

He then called for more Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel and more immigration judges to better address the enormous backlog of asylum claims in immigration court.

A week after this interview, 12-year-old Jocelyn Nungaray’s body was discovered in a north Houston creek.

Local law enforcement arrested two Venezuelan nationals, 21-year-old Johan Jose Rangel Martinez and 26-year-old Franklin Jose Pena Ramos after several days of investigation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement then confirmed that both men had entered the country illegally.

DNA tests also determined that Nungaray had been sexually assaulted before she was strangled to death. Local prosecutors believe both men tied her up, pulled her pants down, sexually assaulted her and then suffocated the 12-year-old before dumping her body in the nearby creek.

Unlike most states or other jurisdictions, Texas tracks the number of arrests related to individuals not legally residing in the U.S., and current data indicate migrant crime is rising in the state.

There were 26,864 arrests related to illegal migrants in the state made in 2020, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. That number ballooned to 46,793 in 2023.

“Colin Allred has stayed silent on the death of Jocelyn Nungaray and on the increase in crimes by illegal aliens across the country, but he had no issue voting for mass amnesty for illegal aliens,” a Cruz campaign spokesperson said to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “He has proven time and time again that he will always be a consistent vote for Joe Biden’s open borders agenda.”

“He bears the responsibility for these senseless deaths and Texans won’t forget it in November,” the statement continued.

Allred’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.

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