Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Roberto Galo killed a guy. Deport him

As always, Leftists side with the lawbreaker

On Nov. 16, 2010, an unlicensed driver named Roberto Galo took a left turn at Harrison and 16th streets and hit motorcyclist Drew Rosenberg. After Galo then backed over Rosenberg's body, the law-school student died. A jury convicted Galo for manslaughter and driving without a license. After serving 43 days in jail, he was released on home detention.

Don Rosenberg of Westlake Village (Los Angeles County) blames San Francisco politics for his son's death. He also fears that the like-minded Obama administration will shield unlicensed drivers to the detriment of public safety - and Washington isn't giving him reason to believe otherwise.

This sanctuary city has been so eager to protect illegal immigrants who cannot obtain California drivers' licenses that in 2009, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom announced that the city no longer would impound the cars of unlicensed drivers automatically. In 2008, the AAA Foundation for Public Safety reported that 29 percent of fatal car crashes in California involved a driver without a valid license. No worries. San Francisco sent a message to folks who haven't even passed a driver's test: You can drive here and get away with it.

Accidents happen, but Rosenberg doesn't see this crash as an accident - Galo, after all, backed over Rosenberg's son.

You can't blame California's law that denies driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. As a legal immigrant given temporary protective status, Galo was eligible for a driver's license. But he didn't have one, and he drove anyway. That decision demonstrated a reckless disregard for the safety of others and disrespect for California law.

Repeated disrespect. Five months earlier, police stopped Galo for driving the wrong way on a one-way street and driving without a license. He paid a $220 fine. Then-Police Chief George Gascón - now the district attorney - supported the Newsom plan. He even told me at the time that it would help legal residents who couldn't afford to get a license or driver training. Does he still support it? No answer from his office.

The public defender's office, which represented Galo, did not wish to discuss the case.

The next question is whether Galo, having been convicted of two misdemeanors, can remain in the United States legally. While immigration officials have not responded to my queries, aides to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, told me that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told them Galo was guilty of only one crime of moral turpitude - which suggests that he can stay.

Thursday ICE released a statement that said Galo is here lawfully and it "is investigating the options related to his status in light of his criminal convictions."

Jessica Vaughan of the pro-enforcement Center for Immigration Studies told me, "What makes this particular case disconcerting is that authorities seemed willing to overlook this serious violation in order to protect someone from deportation who has killed someone." Will Washington follow San Francisco's example?

If so, thank groups like the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles who have sold the idea that driving without a license is not a big deal. Spokesman Jorge-Mario Cabrera told me, "We don't believe that most traffic offenses should be deportable."

Cabrera feels sorry for the Rosenbergs. But: "Does deportation, exile, bring back the person's son?"

Deportation, however, might prevent the death of someone else's son.

As Rosenberg noted, San Francisco's message to unlicensed drivers is that they can drive, kill somebody and serve only 43 days in jail. The Obama administration, however, could send the message that when immigrants seeking permanent legal status flout the law and drive without a license, and they kill somebody, they will be deported.

The only reason not to send that message: You care more about people who break the law than the law-abiding public.


Illegal immigrant driver's license measure sails through Illinois Senate

The Illinois Senate today approved legislation that would allow tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to have special drivers licenses, but the bill’s fate in the House is still up in the air.

The proposal, sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, would allow an estimated 250,000 undocumented immigrants in Illinois to be eligible for the special, three-year licenses to drive a vehicle. With Congress and the White House unable to reach agreement on the overall issue of how to deal with immigration, Cullerton argued the state needs to address safety on public highways now.

Cullerton said it “makes sense” to have people tested and trained in the rules of Illinois roadways rather than go without licenses of any kind.

“We will definitely save lives by passing this bill,” Cullerton said.

But Sen. Chris Lauzen, R-Aurora, spoke stoutly against granting driving privileges to people who are breaking the law by being in the country illegally. Moving Illinois into this territory, Lauzen said, would mean  “we have the cart before the horse.”

The Senate approved the bill 41-14, with one lawmaker voting present. (See how they voted by clicking here.) Now it goes to the House, which could take up the issue in early January.

Lawrence Benito, who heads the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said he is still tallying the votes in the House, where a similar proposal passed five years ago.

The special license would be different in color from a regular driving license. It could not officially be used for identification purposes, such as for boarding a plane, buying a gun or voting. To get a special license, a person would have to live within Illinois for at least a year—a provision that would require applicants to provide a copy of a lease, utility bills or other proof or residency.

Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno of Lemont said there is no “perfect solution” for the driving license issue in Illinois when the overall of immigration debate is still unresolved. But she said the Illinois legislation represented a good-faith effort to tackle the public policy problem of people driving on the roads without authority.


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