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Posted at 9:04 PM ET, 08/ 4/2010

A proper tribute to Sister Denise

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Simone Campbell
Washington

As a Catholic sister, I grieve the death of Sister Denise Mosier in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver [“Va. driver had record of DUIs before fatal crash,” front page, Aug. 3] and the serious injury of two of her fellow nuns. But I am also horrified that people are using this tragedy to fuel their anti-immigrant ravings aimed at our Hispanic neighbors. This vilification began even before news reports revealed the driver’s immigration status. His Hispanic name was enough to unleash a torrent of hateful messages in The Post’s online comments section. Local politicians soon followed with anti-immigrant statements to fuel their political agendas.

Enough! Hate speech does not honor these good sisters. Prayer and compassion are the appropriate response. DUI offenses should be taken more seriously since the driver’s intoxication — not his immigration status — caused this tragedy.

We as a nation must stop this immigrant-bashing. It is time for all of us to insist that Congress show some courage and pass comprehensive immigration reform. This would be a proper tribute to Sister Denise’s memory.

The writer is executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice advocacy group.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | August 4, 2010; 9:04 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Virginia, immigration  
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Comments

I respectfully disagree with those who say the August 1 fatal car accident in Prince William County allegedly caused by an illegal immigrant drunk driver is strictly a matter of DUI, and that the driver's immigration status is not germane to the accident.

There are some who argue that illegal immigrants in the U.S. don't commit crime at a greater rate than the population at large. (That is, crimes in addition to the crime of being in the country illegally.) I don't know if that's true. But even if it is, then the illegal immigrant crime rate is still too high.

The U.S. -- like all countries -- has the right to decide which foreigners to allow into the country, and which to keep out. When checking the backgrounds of non-citizens who try to enter any country, it's perfectly reasonable for the authorities to deny entry to individuals who are determined to have committed serious crimes. And, if a non-citizen commits a crime while residing in a given country, it's also perfectly reasonable for the authorities to detain and deport that individual -- even if the crime is simply being in the country illegally.

If the U.S.'s borders were secure, and if its immigration laws were strictly enforced, and if the backgrounds of all immigrants were checked, then the crime rate among immigrants would be considerably lower than that of the population at large. Immigration and Customs Enforcement currently does not have resources to do all of this, so ICE's resources should be increased. America has every right to insist that its non-citizen population be made up of individuals who are here legally, and have no criminal records.

Following his FIRST drunk driving conviction, Carlos A. Martinelly Montano should have been held in detention and deported -- without being released before his deportation. That would have made a VERY positive difference from the situation we are now dealing with. If the reason for Mr. Montano's release was a backlog at ICE, then stimulus funds should be directed to ICE to hire more personnel and build more detention facilities to eliminate the backlog.

The Benedictine Sisters of Virginia are to be commended for their forgiveness. It's true that this accident is a tragic example of on the consequences of drinking and driving. Drunk driving is an extremely serious crime, regardless of whether the driver is an illegal immigrant. However, to ignore the immigration status of Mr. Montano is to ignore the sometimes tragic consequences of not enforcing immigration laws. Illegal immigrants like Mr. Montano endanger the safety and well-being of ALL people -- both citizens and immigrants.

Posted by: arquetect | August 5, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Let's get this straight: Sister Simone is angry that people are politicizing Sister Denise's death, but only because it's for all the wrong reasons. Why else would she conclude with a call for "comprehensive immigration reform" -- code for amnesty? -- and insist that it would "be a proper tribute to Sister Denise's memory."

Very cynical coming from anyone, much less a nun. What a shame.

Posted by: kalvinistken | August 5, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect to “arquetect,” I believe your response completely missed the point made by Sister Simone Campbell. Her comments were mainly about hate speech and bigotry. Today, any mention of a crime committed by someone whose name sounds Hispanic attracts ugly, hate-filled, anti-immigrant rhetoric. Sadly, some of our weaker political leaders immediately jump on this and are quick to turn that bigotry into unjust actions that feed into their political agendas.

Until and unless we begin to address the hate, immigrants who simply want to work hard to support their families will experience fear and prejudice wherever they go.

Solutions to the problems caused by our broken immigration system are far more complex than simply beefing up our border with Mexico or mass deportations. It is time for congressional leaders in both parties to step up to the plate and to create comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level while they condemn bigotry wherever and whenever it occurs. Our nation deserves no less.

Posted by: Niedringhaus | August 5, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Actually, "as a nation" this guy should have been sent back to his own country, if for no other reason than he was a repeat offender. Its likely he was still around to end this nun's life was because people like Simone are spreading the news that supporting controlled immigration is "hate speech" for "haters". So, from that perspective, its likely that his immigrant status IS a contributing, although not the only factor in her death.
Simone had to twist logic "1984" style to come to her hateful assertions.

Posted by: SirWinstonChurchill | August 5, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

The writer is one sick person. In the name of "social justice" the ends justify the means. The nun's life was just collateral damage to
try to push their agenda. How much more collateral damage does this progressive writer think that we need to endure? We have no idea who is in this country. How many more sisters, mothers, daughters, sons, etc... (and I do mean etc..., because other people's lives are meaningless to these people) need to die in the name of "social justice?" I think the writer should start walking in areas where many illegal aliens drink and drive. Maybe, only then, she will understand.

Posted by: wagner3 | August 5, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I agree, it is truly time to stop trying to put all eggs in one basket. Crime is everywhere and amongst everyone. What do you say when a family man or women kill their family. When church is brought of charges of molesting young boys. When a teacher touches a child. It is time to stop the bashing, it's not fair to judge by one actions!!

Some are using the news to express their deep down feelings, stop hiding and be who you really are..

Posted by: shadon1 | August 5, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Please tell me how this happens if this ILLEGAL alien had been deported as he should have been?

Posted by: TerpAndy | August 5, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

NewsBusters: WaPo Highlights 'Local Opinion' Politicizing Nun's Death in Favor of 'Comprehensive Immigration Reform'
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/ken-shepherd/2010/08/05/wapo-highlights-local-opinion-politicizing-nuns-death-favor-comprehens

Posted by: StewartIII | August 5, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

I suggest all you illegal lovers that you study the following information compiled from Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security reports:

• 83 percent of warrants for murder in Phoenix are for illegal aliens.

• 86 percent of warrants for murder in Albuquerque are for illegal aliens.

• 75 percent of those on the most wanted list in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Albuquerque are illegal aliens.

• 24.9 percent of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals .

• 40.1 percent of all inmates in Arizona detention centers are Mexican nationals.

• 48.2 percent of all inmates in New Mexico detention centers are Mexican nationals.

• 29 percent (630,000) of convicted illegal alien felons fill our state and federal prisons at a cost of $1.6 billion annually.

• 53 percent plus of all investigated burglaries reported in California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Texas are perpetrated by illegal aliens.

• 50 percent plus of all gang members in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.

• 71 percent plus of all apprehended cars stolen in 2005 in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California were stolen by Illegal aliens or "transport coyotes".

• 47 percent of cited/stopped drivers in California have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 47 percent, 92 percent are illegal aliens .

• 63 percent of cited/stopped drivers in Arizona have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 63 percent, 97 percent are illegal aliens.

• 66 percent of cited/stopped drivers in New Mexico have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 66 percent, 98 percent are illegal aliens.

• 380,000 plus "(inappropriate term)" were born in the U.S. to illegal alien parents in just one year, making 380,000 babies automatically U.S. citizens.

• 97.2 percent of all costs incurred from those illegal births were paid by the American taxpayers. That is almost ALL of them!

What a disgrace you are to our country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!These are facts that you didn't learn from your misguided priets and nuns..

A concerned American citizen.

Posted by: RobBurt | August 5, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

It seems there are two issues involved: One being a moral matter, while the other is criminal in nature.

Certainly the good Sisters can forgive based on the moral aspect; however, the criminal side rests with the state (or Commonwealth, in this instance).

Of the criminal aspect, there are several wrongdoings that exists, one of which is the Driving Under the Influence, along with violations of the United States Immigration rules and requirements. The young man broke these rules and must abide the consequences of his actions.

Morally, he can be forgiven. Criminally, he must pay the price.

May Sister Denise rest in peace.

+++


Posted by: adjjones | August 5, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

You're a hypocrite, Simone Campbell. You condemn others for "politicizing" the death of the sister, and then you do the same thing, promoting "comprehensive immigration reform," i.e. amnesty.

I've got news for you; we have immigration laws on the books that are not being enforced. If they were enforced, we wouldn't have an illegal immigration problem. If they had been enforced, Sister Denise would not have died at the hands of a man who should have been deported years ago after two other DUI arrests and multiple arrests for other crimes.

I'm also a Catholic, and it is outrageous that my own church is advocating the breaking of US laws and advocating for CRIMINALS who are in this country illegally.

Posted by: anna_78750 | August 6, 2010 2:36 AM | Report abuse

First, I went to Catholic schools all my life...nothing in my Catholic education taught me to break laws I disagree with. Had laws been followed, this tragedy would not have happened.

As a Catholic I get the forgiveness route HOWEVER, illegal immigrants are to be deported because they have broken federal law. Should they want to come here legally they have made it that much harder on themselves. (I don't sympathize) If they commit crimes, strike 2. (or 3) . Likely they won't ever get in. This guy should have been deported but of course would have just walked over again illegally without reform.

We need reform... the kind that enforces our laws and protects our citizens. Laws that expose ICE if they don't deport illegals. Laws so judges can't just release illegals. Laws that provide for ONE way in so they can be vetted just as our ancestors were. Laws to keep convicted criminals out. I hear people say its so hard to come here...well I thought Catholic Kindergarten was hard....funny, I eventually made it through 18 years of education because of hard work and following the rules.

The Catholic Church needs to rethink it's opinion on illegal immigration before yet another causes the death of an American citizen.

My prayers are with the victims.

Posted by: contrary | August 6, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I have had to identify the body of my uncle who was killed by a drunk driver. I have had to leave Washington headed for central New Jersey not knowing the fact of my brother or his beloved golden retriever after he was hit by a drunk driver. I was three hours into the journey before I learned that my brother only had some broken ribs and a broken collar bone and his golden was battered and bruised, but alright.I am constantly reminded of the fact that more Americans die each and every year at the hands of drunk drivers than are killed in Iraq. For reasons that are beyond me people in this country want to down play the consequences of drunk driving and the damage they do. (MADD against drunk driving the exception of this statement.) In the case of my brother we learned after the accident that this was not this gentleman's first but sixth drunk driving offense. Subsequently, we learned that he was an illegal alien who had successfully avoided not only prison but also deportation. He is still in this country and my brother has seen him driving and there is surely something wrong with this. Drunk driving is not an immigration issue, but we should not allow illegal immigrants who drive and drive the privilege of residing in our country.

Posted by: jeffreed | August 6, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Hate speech? Hate speech?

Ignorant cow.

Posted by: jiji1 | August 6, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

The driver happened to be an illegal immigrant. His status is not what caused a death, injuries and property damage. There were two causes: alcohol abuse/alcoholism and driving while intoxicated. These are prevalent problems among 100% American citizens (one such person, a recidivistic DWI offender, killed a former boss when the drink driver's truck crossed over the center line and collided head-on with my former boss's sedan), so removing all illegal immigrants from the U.S. would have at best only a marginal effect on the results of the two causes. What we need is effective interventions for these causes for all who are in our country. Let this accident be the stimulus for (a) supporting more research to provide the base for and to demonstrate effective evidence-based interventions for alcohol abuse /alcoholism and for DWI AND (b) for mobilizing to overcome the opposition (for reasons of personal profit) of alcohol producers and sellers to fully implementing the evidence-based interventions that do exist for restricting access to excessive alcohol consumption and for preventing driving while intoxicating (the ignition lock device to prevent driving while intoxicated is highly effective as long as its installation is legally required -- and the device usually is of little or no cost to the DWI offender by virtue of a reduction in his/her auto insurance premiums for having the device installed).



Posted by: jimb | August 7, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

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