Aside from Keith Olbermann‘s ridiculous anointing of Geraldo Rivera as “The Best Person in the World” (as opposed to his regular segment, “The Worst Person in the World” where in Bill O’Reilly regularly manages that honor) for his “noble” defense of illegal-alien Alfredo Ramos of Virginia Beach due to his successful extermination of two teenage girls in a drunk driving incident, the simple fact remains that Ramos would not have killed those young women had he not been in the country illegally in the first place.
Rivera’s deluded perception the accident had nothing to do with illegal-immigration goes beyond the pale. It at least has as much to do with illegal-immigration as it does with drunk driving. In fact, I would say it is about illegal-immigration first and driving while intoxicated second. Had our border been far more secure than it is now in its current revolving door state, Ramos might have never been allowed to enter this country illegally. He might never have made his way to Virginia Beach. He might never had decided to get drunk the night of the fatal crash. He might never have recklessly bumbled his way behind the wheel of a vehicle, and he might never have killed two innocent people as a result. Had Alfredo Ramos not been allowed to enter this country illegally, those two girls would still be alive today. It’s a simple fact that no one, not ever Geraldo Rivera can, or should deny. To do so, as he did on The O’reilly Factor last week, is shameful and deserving of scorn.
Instead, Keith Olbermann praises Rivera and such insipid statements as “illegal immigrants commit less crime than American citizens.” To Keith and Geraldo: well duh! When you have a country whose population sits at around 300 million individuals with 12 to 20 million more illegal-immigrants, it is not difficult to understand that fewer crimes are committed by illegal-aliens than infractions by legal residents. Geraldo’s case is a hasty generalization bordering tu quoque. The obvious reigns supreme–there would be less crime in this country were our borders secure, meaning there would be fewer rapists, pedophiles, murders, gang bangers, drug dealers, thieves, and drunk drivers. How difficult is that to comprehend? Obviously, for Olbermann and Rivera (and this preposterous article at Salon.com), it’s beyond comprehension.
Also last week here in Los Angeles, another ugly drunk driving incident made headlines across the country with yet another illegal-alien drunk driver, Hector Velazquez-Nava who happened to snuff out the lives of another two American citizens–this time renowned film director, Bob Clark and his 22 year-old son Ariel Hanrath-Clark. Even though Velazquez-Nava has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, he still wished to express his condolences and sorrow for their deaths. Didn’t I just mention he pleaded not guilty?
Because two high profile incidents such as these occured in a relatively short time frame, by no means should this indicate that all or most illegal-aliens are as ignorant and careless as were Ramos and Velazquez-Nava, but their cases acutely bring to light, in the most tragic of circumstances, only one reason as to why we must gain control of our southern border. Drunk drivers, regardless of citizenship status, are ticking time bombs. But if we were to competently disallow entry to a group of people who accept driving while under the influence as simply a degenerate yet acceptable aspect of their peasant culture–their “manliness” is defined by how much they can drink and not fall down, or not kill people with a car apparently–then that would rightly reduce the amount of unnecessary deaths. Is that too difficult to accept? Of course not.
There are far too many reasons as to why the illegal-alien population is detrimental to the United States, and I’ve covered those many times before throughout this site. The problem that arises from the opposition, including activists, is their lack of reasons as to why we should allow them free access, other than the fact that the wealthy, whether they’re liberals or conservatives, democrats or republicans simply want as much access to an easily exploitable labor base (i.e. modern slavery) as possible. Those who desire the unrestricted admittance of illegal-aliens only desire their exploitation without heeding the concrete consequences, even when those consequences end up killing American citizens.
If only Alfredo Ramos had been deported the first, or even the second time he’d been apprehended for DUI.
Hispanic DWIs rooted in immigrants’ culture
Lifestyle, isolation figure in driving drunk
When Eliseo Hernandez came to the United States 30 years ago, he thought he drove better after a few beers. Driving drunk had been normal back in Mexico, he said. But Hernandez, 54, learned of its perils firsthand. He quit the practice after falling asleep at the wheel and hitting a tree 18 years ago.Then, last year, a young Hispanic man who authorities say was drunk nearly killed Hernandez’s only son, Diego, in a crash on a rural Johnston County road. Eliseo Hernandez’s daughter, who was nine months pregnant, lost her unborn child in the accident.
Hernandez has spent the past year following Diego through four hospitals and 14 brain surgeries. Diego only recently began to smile again and might never walk.
Hernandez said he hopes his painful journey will teach his friends and family a lesson. Car accidents are the top killer of Hispanics in North Carolina, and the disproportionate number of alcohol-related arrests and wrecks are an embarrassment to a minority already beleaguered by hard feelings over illegal immigration.
“It makes the Mexicans look bad, very bad,” Hernandez said. “The American people say ‘Oh, it’s just another Hispanic, the same as the others.’ ”
In 2005, there were 37 alcohol-related crashes caused by Hispanic drivers for every 10,000 Hispanics in the state, according to the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. That is more than three times the rate of alcohol-related crashes among non-Hispanics.
Hispanic leaders are struggling to stem a problem that they say is rooted in the waves of young men who leave the calming influences of church and family to labor alone in a new country.
“It’s difficult because you’re trying to compete with the loneliness,” said Tony Asion, public safety director for El Pueblo, an Hispanic advocacy group. “Then, as some learn, more come, and we start again.”
Last month, a Johnston County father and son died in a fiery crash authorities say was caused by Luciano Tellez, 31, an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Dwane Braswell, 35, and his son Jerry, 9, were riding in a tractor-trailer cab on N.C. 210 in the Cleveland community of Johnston County when Tellez struck the tractor and rolled it into a ditch, where it caught fire.
Empty beer cans were found in Tellez’ car, but authorities say it is impossible to know whether he was drunk.
It was the latest in a string of such accidents caused by Hispanic men. In February in Salisbury, a woman who was eight months pregnant and her unborn child were killed. In October, it was two college students and a high school boy. In January 2006, a man from El Salvador killed a Hillsborough woman in a head-on crash and fled, leaving an injured passenger in his own car.
Researchers say drunken driving among Hispanics is at least partially explained by demographics. As in many places where immigration is fairly recent, the Hispanic population in North Carolina is young and dominated by men — both factors that make them statistically more likely to drive drunk.
Men in their 20s and 30s made up more than half the people charged with DWI statewide in the year ending last July. Nearly 40 percent of North Carolina Hispanics were 21- to 39-year-old men in 2005, according to census estimates. This same age range accounted for only 18 percent of blacks and 16 percent of whites.
Bobby Dunn, who counsels Spanish-speaking DWI convicts in Johnston and Wilson counties, said his clients are often young men far from home with money in their pockets for the first time. Many were too poor to have cars in Mexico, so they have little experience behind the wheel.
They also see drinking as a way of showing their manhood.
“The magic number is 12,” Dunn said, or “un doce” in Spanish. “If you can drink 12 beers, you’re a man.”
Others say heavy drinking is part of a lifestyle dominated by long work days building homes, painting or picking crops.
Walking down Buck Jones Road to his apartment in West Raleigh, Alberto Gonzalez figured he would drink most of the 12-pack he had just bought that night, even though it was a weeknight.
Gonzalez, 29, said he hadn’t given much thought to spending a night without a beer in hand. “I just sit and drink,” he said. “Maybe a friend will come by. Other than work, this is what I do.”
Hernandez was part of an early wave of young men who came to North Carolina to pick tobacco. There were so few Hispanics in North Carolina then, he said, he couldn’t find a store that sold hot peppers or corn tortillas.
He had been a drinker in Mexico, he said, but it got worse in the United States. He didn’t have a family to tend to, and he felt very alone in a place where no one understood him.
“When you are young, you don’t think anything will happen to you,” he said. “When you have a family, you care more about your life.”
In fact, the increasing number of Hispanic women and children in North Carolina may explain why the prevalence of drunken-driving accidents and arrests among Hispanics has not grown with the population.
By some measures, DWI accidents and citations among Hispanics are actually diminishing.
Hispanics made up 18 percent of the 75,000 DWI arrests last year, while they accounted for 6 percent of the population. The portion of DWI citations going to Hispanics has crept up slightly since 2000, even as the growth in the state’s Hispanic population has outpaced overall population growth by more than 500 percent.
Since 2000, alcohol-related crashes among Hispanics have dropped from 9 percent of all crashes that involve Hispanics to 7 percent.
The pressure to reverse the trend is intense. Each fatality brings calls for deportations and tighter immigration controls.
Luke Steele, 49, adds up the deaths and sees a growing problem that stems from immigration. He said his daughter lost her college roommate to a Hispanic drunken driver in October.
Steele, a longtime fire rescue worker, also remembers a 1991 wreck in which a teenage girl was killed by an illegal immigrant who “skipped town before the case ever went to trial.”
“We’ve still got plenty of stupid white, black, pink and purple people that drive drunk. That’s plenty to go around,” he said. “The reality is if they weren’t here, they could not kill people [while] driving drunk.”
After the March wreck in Johnston County, U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, a Charlotte Republican, reintroduced a bill that would require the deportation of all immigrants convicted of drunken driving.
And anti-immigration groups have seized on the issue as an effective marketing strategy for their cause.
“The effect on the labor force is real, but it’s indirect,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, which favors tighter controls on immigration. “Whereas, an illegal alien who drives drunk and kills some newlywed couple is tangible.”
Asion, who leads El Pueblo’s effort to curb drunken driving, works to separate the DWI problem from the immigration debate.
Many Hispanics have not grown up with anti-drunken-driving messages, and it will take time for the ideas to take hold.
“It’s not something that you can do easily,” Asion said. “If it was, then the U.S. population would have already done it.”
Hispanics wary of fallout from deadly crash in Virginia Beach
| Manuel Ayala, at right, has been in the United States nearly 20 years. He said many people automatically assume he’s an illegal immigrant. Now, “the discrimination, it’s going to show more,” said Ayala, owner of San Jose Mexican Mini Mart. STEPHEN M. KATZ/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT
By GILLIAN GAYNAIR, The Virginian-Pilot
© April 7, 2007 VIRGINIA BEACH – Because one Hispanic person is accused of causing a tragic accident, Monica Restrepo said, she now frets that many will be judged and be the brunt of insults.
“We’re very worried about what’s going to happen to all of us in the community,” said Restrepo, who owns the decade-old La Tapatia, believed to be one of the first Latin American grocery stores in the city.
Restrepo and other local Hispanics this week expressed their sympathy for the families of two Virginia Beach girls killed in a car crash March 30. But they also couldn’t mask their concern over a possible backlash against both legal and illegal immigrants.
They fear that because of Alfredo Ramos, people will categorize all Hispanics as drunken drivers and unauthorized immigrants. Ramos, 22, is charged with aggravated involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Alison Kunhardt, 17, and Tessa Tranchant, 16. He had a record of three alcohol-related convictions in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake and had entered the country from Mexico illegally.
Many Hispanics said the public response to the incident has been incorrectly centered on Ramos’ immigration status instead of on drunken-driving laws and penalties.
“When someone has committed a crime, it doesn’t matter what legal status they have, what ethnic group – you’ve committed a crime,” said Mavel Velasco Muñoz, chairwoman of the Hispanic Leadership Forum of Hampton Roads. “We are not condoning it,” but, she said, the public is wrongly lumping together immigration issues and DUI laws.
Beatriz Amberman, a Virginia Beach resident and vice chairwoman of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations, agreed.
“I wonder how many people are driving under the influence of alcohol and have been let go with a slap on the hand… and whether the system is actually working in that regard,” she said. “Rather than that… because of this one individual, we’re judging all undocumented workers.”
The tragedy gained national attention Wednesday through Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” when host Bill O’Reilly blamed the city of Virginia Beach and accused local officials of providing sanctuary to illegal immigrants. O’Reilly and TV personality Geraldo Rivera traded verbal punches on Thursday (video).
Locally, rumors swirled Friday among some Hispanics that federal immigration authorities were coming to Virginia Beach to raid establishments that employ illegal immigrants.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington said that such rumors are no t surprising, given the amount of attention the Ramos case has received.
“I can’t tell you that no investigation is going on, because that’s something we do on a daily basis,” Ernestine Fobbs said. “I can’t confirm or deny whether we have an active investigation going on at this time. It’s not something that we’d reveal.”
Ramos had worked briefly at Mi Casita restaurant on Bonney Road, according to Gary C. Byler, an attorney representing El Toro Loco Inc., the corporation that owns Mi Casita. Byler said Ramos was told not to come back to work when his documents appeared to be invalid. He was not working at the restaurant at the time of the car crash, Byler said.
It wasn’t unusual to see Ramos and other employees walking along Bonney Road and visiting establishments in Thalia Village Shoppes, business owners there said.
In the week after the car crash, there has been less foot traffic overall, said Junior Garcia, who owns La Tienda International Foods and Mi Tierra Restaurant.
Garcia said that since the incident, he has also noticed more police in the area and suspected that “we’ll probably have more police officers stopping Latinos on looks.”
Like others, Garcia was concerned about the response to the tragedy.
“I haven’t heard once that it was an accident,” he said. “White people also drink. I feel people have blown out of proportion his status and where he’s from. It could have been anybody.”
While he and his friends talked about the Ramos case at Mi Orgullo Latin Accessories in the same plaza, Jonathan Rodriguez wondered whether there would be such a public outcry had an intoxicated white citizen been accused in the girls’ deaths.
“Now they want to punish every Latin person out there,” he said. “Now it’s going to be harder for us…. You could be a citizen, but they’re still going to hate you.”
Local Hispanic leaders say they hope to turn the tragedy into an opportunity to educate more people about the dangers of drunken driving, push for tougher penalties for it and work for immigration laws that can be respected as fair.
Amberman, of the Coalition of Latino Organizations, said she is worried that “people want to look at only one side of the picture.”
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