Saturday, September 22, 2007

Blinded By The Light

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

We're hearing more and more about the bad driving-skills and the behind-the-wheel antics of illegal immigrants. I predict that sooner or later you or someone you know will be directly and adversely affected by the hordes of illegals on our highways and byways. I hope that your or your friends' encounters will not be as bad as what happened the other day to a group of al fresco diners in the Midwest.From this September 19, 2007 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
A driver whose SUV plowed into a crowd of lunchtime diners outside a restaurant in downtown Clayton on Tuesday told police he had been blinded by a bright light.

Clayton police Capt. Steve Grenier said police cited the driver, who lost control while making a left turn from westbound Maryland Avenue onto southbound Central Avenue just before noon.

The vehicle, a white Ford Expedition, crossed the sidewalk and ended up in a sunken outdoor dining area at Il Vicino, pinning two diners beneath it and injuring a third, said Clayton Fire Chief Mark Thorp.


The driver, Sergio Lopez, 23, who has a post office address in Collinsville, is an illegal immigrant from Mexico, said Clayton Police Chief Thomas Byrne. Lopez suffered minor injuries in the crash.

Lopez, who spoke little English and did not have a valid U.S. drivers license, told police he was blinded by a bright light as he attempted to turn.

He was cited for operating a vehicle with no license, having no proof of insurance and making an improper turn.

Immigration Customs Enforcement has issued a federal detainment order on Lopez, and he was to be held at the St. Louis County Justice Center upon his release from the hospital.

Lopez owns the SUV...
Check out his vehicle:

As Bob McCarty mentioned at his site, the above is a fine-looking vehicle, complete with that expensive etching or custom decal on the front windshield.

As is the case in so many stories like this one, the driver who lost control of his vehicle is a repeat offender, with more than the above-mentioned incident on his driving record. From this article in the September 20, 2007 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The illegal immigrant whose SUV ran into diners outside a Clayton eatery this week had been involved in a crash in St. Louis less than two months ago.

City police records indicate that the driver, Sergio Lopez, 23, caused a collision July 26 on South Kingshighway near Southwest Avenue while driving the same SUV.

Eleanor Sanford, 80, said Wednesday that an SUV had turned in front of her from a gas station parking lot, hitting her car and sending it spinning. She was shaken but not seriously hurt.

The driver sped off, Sanford said, and police tracked him through a license plate that fell off. "He just hit us and took off," she said.

She said she did not connect her wreck with Tuesday's high-profile Clayton incident until reporters called her about it Wednesday.


Lopez was cited in her case for driving with no driver's license, improper license plates, no insurance and failing to yield to an emergency vehicle.

The report does not indicate any police awareness that Lopez was in the United States improperly....
The police had no awareness of Lopez's immigration status? Isn't it time to give local law enforcement the power to enforce our immigration laws? Instead, the governor of New York has proposed the following:

From this article in the September 22, 2007 edition of the Washington Times:
New York's governor announced yesterday that illegal aliens will soon be able to get state driver's licenses, drawing a strong rebuke from families of victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks who said he is opening a window to another attack.

The new rules reverse a 2002 policy designed to correct one of the flaws identified after the terrorist attacks — easy access to driver's licenses, which allowed illegal aliens to blend into society and would-be terrorists to avoid detection. But Gov. Eliot Spitzer said he thinks the state can have both secure driver's licenses and a system that draws illegal aliens into the system rather than punishing them.

The governor expects the plan to reduce insurance costs, and he said the reality is that illegal aliens are already here and that "allowing them the opportunity to obtain driver's licenses in a responsible and secure manner will help increase public safety."...
I don't quite follow that bit about reducing insurance costs. If any reader here can explain how that aspect works I'd appreciate being enlightened. Returning now to the article,
Backers of the new rules said they are designed to make illegal aliens' lives easier while weeding out fraudulent driver's license requests.

The new policy will apply only to those with a valid foreign passport, which officials hope will cut down on fraud. Machine-readable passports can be scanned at the Department of Motor Vehicles once the policy goes into effect, but non-readable passports will be sent to a central processing office to be checked.

Applicants will also have to show other documents, though the state is not yet releasing a full list of the 14 documents that will be accepted. A combination of documents will be required to prove identity.
And just how accurate will the vetting of these identities be? Record-keeping in a lot of countries, including those south of our border, isn't terribly accurate. Doesn't matter, I suppose, because

New York first will invite more than 150,000 people to reapply who used to have licenses but had to give them up because they no longer qualified under the 2002 policy. Months later, other New Yorkers who never had a license and don't qualify under the current rules will be allowed to apply.
Toward the end of the article in the Washington Times, a retired INS official makes the case as to how difficult the New York proposal is going to be in practical application:

...Michael W. Cutler, a retired Immigration and Naturalization Service agent, said it opens a loophole for fraud and that it's tough enough to verify U.S.-issued birth certificates, much less foreign documents.
Over at his blog and on the telephone with me on the air on the radio, Beak has mentioned the difficulty in dealing with paperwork from a foreign country. Maybe the governor of New York should do some research on the web.

The problem with issuing licenses to illegals goes further:
[Cutler] also said a driver's license is the key to being able to live undetected in the U.S. and that Mr. Spitzer's new rules will aid illegal aliens trying to do that.

"It's almost a de facto sanctuary," Mr. Cutler said. "Driver's licenses enable people to do more than drive. They establish people's identity when they write a check, do banking, get on airplanes."
As I see it, licensing illegals threatens both our personal safety and our national security. Doesn't the governor of New York understand the can of worms he proposes to open?

Now, I admit that I may have a personal stake in my position. I myself was rear-ended by an immigrant driver behind the wheel and, as a result, have suffered a permanent disability, albeit a minor one compared to other disabilities out there. Was that driver who ran up my tail pipe an illegal? Possibly, because he got his driver's license before 9/11, before the state of Virginia cracked down on illegals' ability to get driver's licenses. He also behaved peculiarly at the scene of the accident. I can't provide more details because the law suit and any possible settlement are pending.

In part because of what happened to me and in part because of stories such as those in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other similar stories I hear on the nightly news, I have to wonder if any group is keeping statistics on the damage which illegal immigrants behind the wheel are doing to citizens and to those who are legally present in our nation. I'm guessing that those statistics would be revealing as to another cost tied to illegal immigration.

[Hat-tip to Bob McCarty Writes, where I found the articles from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

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posted by Always On Watch @ 9/22/2007 08:43:00 AM