Reintroduced DUI Legislation Would Deport Illegal Immigrants Convicted of Drunk Driving
By: Mary Ann Pekara
Illegal immigrants convicted of DUI would be deported from the United States if one lawmaker from North Carolina has her way.
Last week, U.S. Representative Sue Myrick reintroduced the "Scott Gardner Act," named after a Holly, North Carolina man who was killed in a July 2005 drunken driving accident involving an illegal immigrant with a handful of previous DWI convictions. This DUI legislation would require that an illegal immigrant convicted of drunk driving serve his or her criminal sentence in the United States and then be placed in the hands of deportation officials upon its completion.
This DUI legislation would also make state and local law enforcement officials collect information on immigrants as part of their normal duties and then put this information into Federal immigration databases. Specifically, this DUI bill would require all drunken driving charges be put in the FBI's National Criminal Information Center database within 30 days of the incident. Myrick has said that this aspect of her proposed DUI law is important because if law enforcement had records of Ramiro Gallegos, the man who killed Gardner, they would have stripped his license after seeing his five previous DWI convictions prior to this tragic accident, which also left Gardner's wife Emily in a vegetative state.
Other aspects of Myrick's DUI legislation include providing state and local law enforcement with the resources to accomplish the above goals. As an example, the Department of Homeland Security would provide funding to states so that they can train officers to deal with illegal immigrants who are driving drunk, including putting them into mandatory detention and transporting them quickly so they can be deported efficiently. If states do not fulfill these duties, they would lose federal State Criminal Alien Assistance Program Funding.
Myrick said that this DUI legislation provides the necessary resources for law enforcement and immigration officials to deal with the offense in a way it fits the crime. Gardner's mother, Emily Moose, said that if people are going to be saved from such incidents which killed her son, this legislation needs to be enacted immediately.
Proponents of this DUI legislation have applauded Wyrick's tough stance on illegal immigrants who are driving under the influence of alcohol. Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson claimed in a MyFox WGHP online story that many North Carolina DUI suspects are illegal immigrants. He added that if people are going to come to America, they must follow the law.
Opponents to this DUI legislation feel that illegal immigrants should go through the same legal channels as anyone else who is arrested and charged with DUI. Other opponents wonder if deportation would be effective. They point to the case of Jasmine Lawrence, who was killed by a drunken driver who had been previously deported four times. Even Gallegos was deported twice prior to killing Scott Gardner.
This DUI Legislation Passed the House Last Year Before Failing in the Senate
Myrick said this version of the Scott Gardner Act will be the same bill that was introduced last year. After getting approved in the House of Representatives, this DUI legislation failed in the Senate.
Myrick has said that she thinks this proposed DUI law will garner enough support this year, especially when considering how immigration is a much bigger issue this time around. Stay updated on the latest developments with this DUI legislation here.