The Human Cost of Not Enforcing Immigration Law

Hans von Spakovsky /

Yesterday we wrote about the real consequences of the failure of the federal government to enforce our immigration laws by referring to the two teenagers in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Allison Kunhardt and Tessa Tranchant, who were killed by a drunken illegal alien in 2007. The culprit had been previously arrested and convicted for public drunkenness and DUI. If his immigration status had been checked and he had been deported after the first arrest, those two girls would likely be alive today.

Sadly, we already have another example in Virginia of the consequences of this kind of neglectful enforcement of our immigration laws. Over the weekend, an illegal alien suspected of drunken driving killed a Catholic nun and seriously injured two others when he crossed the center line and struck the nuns’ car head on in Prince William County. What is so infuriating about this tragedy is it need never have occurred – the illegal alien charged with vehicular manslaughter had a long history of driving convictions, including two DUIs. Not only that, but local police had contacted federal immigration authorities about him last year when they discovered he was an illegal alien.

Yet what did the Feds do? They released him on his own recognizance while his deportation proceeding was pending! This despite his prior convictions and the fact that the Department of Homeland Security is well aware that hundreds of thousands of aliens in deportation proceedings who are allowed to remain free (instead of in jail) based on their “promise” to appear in court never show up – they simply disappear into the vast heartland of our country. This is a problem that has crossed administrations: from 1996 to 2008, 736,000 out of 1.8 million aliens never showed up for their hearings. And according to The Washington Times, the latest statistics from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency show that the Feds are “actually detaining fewer people now on an average daily basis than they did in 2009.”

One thing is certain in this terrible tragedy that occurred in Virginia on Sunday – the immigration judge at the Department of Justice in charge of this deportation proceeding and the customs officials who allowed this twice-convicted DUI offender to roam at will in Virginia instead of holding him in prison for deportation bear a large measure of responsibility for the death of Sister Denise Mosier and the injuries to Sisters Charlotte Lange and Connie Ruth Lupton. And every day that the Obama administration tries to prevent states from arresting immigration violators and the Justice Department and Homeland Security refuse to deport illegal aliens or take the other steps necessary to enforce our immigration laws is another day where the safety and lives of Americans are needlessly endangered.