Crime, il­le­gals and the jobs mag­net

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Per­haps no po­lit­i­cal is­sue bet­ter il­lus­trates how out of touch Wash­ing­ton is than il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. Polling data shows that Amer­i­cans over­whelm­ingly sup­port a tougher stance to­ward il­le­gals, yet the mes­sage does not seem to have got­ten through to Congress, where pow­er­ful Demo­cratic law­mak­ers are pre­vent­ing floor con­sid­er­a­tion of two ma­jor pieces of leg­is­la­tion. One is the SAVE Act, a bill to curb il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion through stepped-up en­force­ment — in par­tic­u­lar, more re­sources to en­able fed­eral, state and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to ar­rest, de­tain and even­tu­ally re­move il­le­gals. The SAVE Act (H.R. 4088 ) is the num­ber one leg­isla­tive al­ter­na­tive to “com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form” (i.e., mass amnesty).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has blocked the SAVE Act from com­ing to the floor for a vote, and it is likely dead for this year. An­other bill, which would en­cour­age busi­nesses to use a state-of-the art sys­tem called E-Ver­ify to find out whether a job ap­pli­cant is in the United States legally, has been en­dorsed by both John McCain and Barack Obama. On July 31, the House voted 407-2 to con­tinue the pro­gram. But the ACLU is strongly op­posed to E-Ver­ify, and Sen. Robert Me­nen­dez, an open-bor­ders New Jer­sey Demo­crat, has blocked its pas­sage in the Se­nate.

While Congress finds ways to avoid ad­dress­ing the em­ploy­ment mag­net that draws il­le­gals into the United States, the Amer­i­can peo­ple con­tinue to be vic­tim­ized by crim­i­nals who un­law­fully en­ter the coun­try. The is­sue has be­come a large one in Colorado, where Fran­cis Her­nan­dez, an il­le­gal alien, has been charged with man­slaugh­ter, ve­hic­u­lar homi­cide and leav­ing the scene of an ac­ci­dent in con­nec­tion with a Sept. 4 ac­ci­dent in Aurora, Colo., a Den­ver sub­urb, that left three peo­ple dead, in­clud­ing 3-yearold Marten Kudlis, who was get­ting ice cream with his mother. Mr. Her­nan­dez, a Gu­atemalan na­tional, is ac­cused of run­ning a red light in a sport util­ity ve­hi­cle and crash­ing into a truck. Both ve­hi­cles went ca­reen­ing into an ice-cream shop, killing Marten and two women in the truck.

Nei­ther fed­eral nor Colorado of­fi­cials have been able to sat­is­fac­to­rily ex­plain how Mr. Her­nan­dez was able to avoid de­porta- tion de­spite 16 ar­rests and at least three stints of in­car­cer­a­tion in lo­cal jails for mi­nor crimes, which in­cluded giv­ing po­lice of­fi­cers an alias and ly­ing about hav­ing a driver’s li­cense. In­deed, it is not clear whether he ever had a driver’s li­cense or a job, or who owned the Chevro­let Sub­ur­ban that Mr. Her­nan­dez al­legedly crashed into the truck 11 days ago. But a bizarre se­ries of oc­cur­rences en­abled him to re­main free de­spite his il­le­gal sta­tus in the United States — even as he con­tin­ued to be ar­rested (and in at least some cases, con­victed) of traf­fic vi­o­la­tions and mi­nor crimes. On May 24, Den­ver po­lice stopped and wrote Mr. Her­nan­dez a sum­mons for mul­ti­ple of­fenses, which in­cluded driv­ing without a valid li­cense and proof of in­sur­ance. One week later, po­lice cited him again for driv­ing without a valid li­cense and other vi­o­la­tions.

Mr. Her­nan­dez missed an­other court date and did not ap­pear be­fore a judge on the charges un­til he was ar­rested again on July 18, when po­lice stopped him for not hav­ing a li­cense plate on his car and smelled al­co­hol on his breath. Mr. Her­nan­dez gave po­lice an alias and at­tempted to flee. The Den­ver Post re­ported that when the de­fen­dant ap­peared be­fore Den­ver County Cir­cuit Court Judge Clau­dia Jor­dan, court records in­cluded some in­for­ma­tion about his prior traf­fic-re­lated of­fenses but ap­par­ently omit­ted in­for­ma­tion about time Mr. Her­nan­dez had spent in jail for crimes that in­cluded ly­ing about hav­ing a driver’s li­cense. Mr. Her­nan­dez pled guilty to one mi­nor count, and Judge Jor­dan gave him un­til Dec. 17 to ob­tain a li­cense to drive — telling him that if he did, the de­fen­dant would not have to serve jail time. He now faces up to 80 years in prison if con­victed in the Sept. 4 in­ci­dent.

Right now, Colorado politi­cians and fed­eral Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment (ICE) are de­bat­ing whether state and lo­cal of­fi­cials no­ti­fied ICE about Mr. Her­nan­dez — as they should have. But re­gard­less of who dropped the ball in the par­tic­u­lar case, open-bor­ders politi­cians like Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Me­nen­dez, who have made this coun­try a wel­com­ing place for il­le­gals, have to shoul­der some of the blame for the fact that aliens like Fran­cis Her­nan­dez con­tinue to walk the streets.

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