The human cost of immigration dysfunction
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.
Paige Winfield Cunningham
| August 4, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Local blog network, Virginia, immigration
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