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Drunk driver's immigration status not "irrelevant" to grieving mother

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By Michelle Malkin  •  August 22, 2007 12:01 PM

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You won’t see Geraldo Rivera reporting on this terrible tragedy. Via the Houston Chronicle:

Felinda Williams couldn’t make herself go to court on a recent morning, couldn’t bring herself to look at the man accused of driving drunk and killing her daughter, her son-in-law and her 2-year-old grandson.

She knows few details of the Aug. 11 crash in Houston that killed the newlyweds and the little boy nicknamed “Peanut Butter.” She does know that her daughter didn’t die on impact. The young woman, according to reports, felt the flames and begged helpless bystanders to pull her free.

The grieving woman knows two things about Juan Felix Salinas, the man charged in connection with their deaths: She knows his name, and she knows he was in the U.S. illegally, out on bail after an earlier arrest.

“He’s been through the courts and the jail before, and nobody caught it,” Williams said. “If they’d caught it, he would have been in jail or deported, and then he wouldn’t have been out there on the streets, and my babies would still be alive.”

Salinas slipped through as so many before him slipped through:

In the past year, Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Houston Police Department officials said they have increased their cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. But despite recent efforts, not all illegal immigrants who come into contact with law enforcement in Houston are referred to immigration authorities, which has frustrated some victims’ advocates and proponents of stricter immigration controls.

Salinas, 41, was arrested in Jacinto City after allegedly shaking his wife violently on March 31. He escaped the attention of immigration officials by posting a “non-arrest” bond at the Harris County Jail, which some victim advocates have called a loophole for illegal immigrants.

Repeat after me: Sovereign Nation or Sanctuary Nation–It’s your choice.

Officials with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office ask each inmate during the intake process about nationality and citizenship, said Sgt. D.M. Mackey.

More than 4,606 inmates admitted to being illegal immigrants and had their cases referred to ICE from August 2006 through August 2007, Mackey said. In the previous 18 months, the sheriff’s office had identified 1,940 illegal immigrants in the jail.

Andy Kahan, director of the Mayor’s Crime Victim’s Office, questioned why local authorities don’t refer all cases involving suspected illegal immigrants to ICE.

“We can’t expect ICE and federal officials to act if we don’t give them all of the information to act on,” he said. “If we don’t give them the tools to make a decision, we reap what we sow.”

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I was going to write a rejoinder to the WSJ’s open-borders editorial, but Bryan Preston already beat me to it. Read.

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