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Posted at 3:30 PM ET, 08/ 4/2010

The human cost of immigration dysfunction

By Paige Winfield Cunningham

Victims exist on both sides of every issue.

They're easy to find on the left side of the immigration debate -- for example, the children of illegal immigrants whose parents constantly fear deportation and struggle to create a life better than the one they left behind.

On the other side of the debate, victimization is often expressed in large numbers that fail to communicate individual suffering -- like how health-care services funded by taxpaying citizens are strained by millions who don't pay.

But this week, a tragic accident involving three Benedictine sisters from Richmond offered the right a story of how deportation gridlock hurts real people. One of the nuns was killed and two were left in critical condition after their vehicle collided with a car driven by 23-year-old Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano, an apparently illegal immigrant who was charged in the accident with DUI for the third time.

It's ironic that the crash occurred in Prince William -- the county known as the toughest in the state on immigration. Prince William has been something of a microcosm of the larger debate since it enacted a policy in 2008 requiring officers to check immigration status upon arrest.

In the first full year of the policy, 13 percent of arrests for DUI were suspected illegal immigrants, according to the 2009 Prince William County Police Report. Illegal immigrants also constituted 10 percent of drivers without licenses and 9.4 percent of drivers in hit-and-run accidents.

The Benedictine Sisters have warned against using Monday's accident for political gain, saying they "are dismayed and saddened that this tragedy has been politicized and become an apparent forum for the illegal immigration agenda."

But these three nuns, and the victims of other such accidents, shouldn't be ignored.

Paige Winfield Cunningham is an investigative reporter and managing editor at Old Dominion Watchdog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Paige Winfield Cunningham  | August 4, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network, Virginia, immigration  
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And your point is?

Posted by: avatar666 | August 4, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

What this tragic accident shows is that neither drunk driving, nor immigration laws are strictly enforced. The driver should not been on the road or in the country. This demonstrates that even the tough policies of PWC are not sufficient to deal with the problem. This is not a right/left issue, but one of simple common sense -- which also seems to be in short supply.

Posted by: johne37179 | August 4, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

As I have written elsewhere, I have lost an uncle to a drunk driver and my brother was not too badly hurt by a drunk driver -some broken ribs and a collar bone. The simple truth is that drunk drivers are a threat to everyone on the road and more people are killed by drunk drivers in this country than are killed in any of the wars this nation is waging. On a daily bases, I hear people decrying military deaths claiming that the time has come to bring are troops home, but I do not hear people taking the same attitude to people who drink, drive, and injure or kill others. There is something very very wrong here. As a nation, we should agree that anyone convicted of drunk driving and either hurting or killing someone should be severely punished and never be allowed to drive again. If this does not deter them and they continue to drive, they should face dire consequences if caught. In the case of illegal immigrants, they should as natives be properly punished and then deported. Sadly, in this country we look the other way on the whole question of drunk driving and to not look at the cost to our society.

Posted by: jeffreed | August 4, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Great article. Wapo may be waking up to the fact that Latinos are not a base for a newspaper to make the money they are accustomed to and that keeping the wages of whites at 1973 levels means they can't afford Wapo. Unemployed whites are not going to keep buying a paper that touts H-1b's for computer jobs and Mexicans for physical jobs.

Posted by: OldAtlantic | August 4, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

"...the children of illegal immigrants whose parents constantly fear deportation..."

These children DO NOT have to be separated from their parents if they are departed. They can take their children with them. This is just another problem with this illegal immigration. And these illegal aliens DO NOT have to fear deportation! They can go back to their own country without be deported.

I hope what Arizona is doing will spread to all 50 States. It's long overdue to get our immigration laws ENFORCED! You can't give 12-20 million illegal aliens amnesty. Are you nuts?

Posted by: scuncic | August 4, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

If I were stopped for driving intoxicated and without a license, I would expect to be
arested. What is going on here?!

Posted by: polly011 | August 5, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

The drunk drivers should be kept away from the roads as they do not kill one person it is the whole family who dies with the members the punishment ment for the drunk driver should be capital punishment nothing less then that as it is a murder he knew what he is doing by DUI

Posted by: currydreamswaldorf | August 5, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

How is an illegal immigrant with THREE DUIs free to kill again? An actual American citizen would be in prison.

Posted by: jiji1 | August 5, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

An elderly woman in Chattanooga, TN was killed in her BED by a drunk, illegal immigrant who ran through the wall of her bedroom.

Posted by: vickie105 | August 5, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

NewsBusters: WaPo Highlights 'Local Opinion' Politicizing Nun's Death in Favor of 'Comprehensive Immigration Reform'

Posted by: StewartIII | August 5, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

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