The Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement introduced H.R. 3808, the Scott Gardner Act, that would automatically deport illegal immigrants who are convicted of drunk driving.
Each year thousands of Americans are killed in alcohol-related accidents. In fact, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) estimates that drunk drivers get behind the wheel more than 80 times before they are arrested. They also contend someone dies every 50 minutes in drinking-related accidents.
As a result, H.R. 3808 was introduced by Rep. Sue Myrick (R- NC) that mandates illegal immigrants who drink and drive are detained and processed by ICE. The Democratic-led Senate also has a bill circulating, however, the Senate would only consider three-time DUI offenders eligible for felony charges. (A felony conviction usually means illegal immigrants are subject to deportation).
The proposed legislation contains the following measures:
- Requires the detention of illegal immigrants who are apprehended for drunken driving after they are released from custody by local law enforcement,
- Instructs the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize the deportation of an illegal immigrant who is convicted of drunken driving,
- Requires a state or local law enforcement officer to verify with federal databases the immigration status of a person who the officer has apprehended for drunken driving and has reasonable grounds to believe is an illegal immigrant,
- Gives local law enforcement the authority to issue a federal detainer to keep an illegal immigrant arrested for drunken driving in custody until he or she is convicted or transferred to a federal facility.
Each year high profile drunk driving cases make headlines. Recently, Carlos Martinelly-Montano proved he is a serial drunk driver. His first DUI crash cost one life and severely injuring two others. Authorities said, Montano has been arrested for drunk driving twice and reckless driving. Despite a conviction, Montano’s immigration status was never checked.
“Even when he was placed in ICE 'custody' after his second DUI arrest, he was released into the streets with a GPS device,” according to Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA). “However, GPS monitoring doesn’t prevent a released criminal from driving drunk. And we know that drunken drivers involved in fatal crashes are eight times more likely to have a prior drunken driving conviction than other drivers.”
Lax enforcement of immigration and drunk driving laws allowed Montano to continue his drinking and driving ways. Montano was finally put away after he killed a Catholic nun in 2010. “Montano got behind the wheel of his vehicle yet again after he had been drinking heavily. This time, tragically, he plowed into a car with three Catholic nuns inside, killing one and severely injuring the two others. Montano was subsequently convicted of felony murder, and involuntary manslaughter,” Gallegly said.
The Congressman said an anonymous conversation with an ICE official confirmed the federal agency doesn’t consider two drunken driving incidents are worthy of detention. “There is absolutely no reason for the administration’s outrageous policy,” Gallegly said.
Case after case clearly demonstrates drunk drivers habitually drive under the influence and increase their chances of causing a traffic accident.
“There are numerous documented cases of illegal immigrants who receive convictions for drunken driving and then are not deported. Although these illegal immigrants have no right to be in our country, they remain in the United States. They are simply released and often go on to drink and drive again. This problem can’t continue to be ignored,” Gallegly finished.