Roadkillers: unlicensed, drunk-driving illegal aliens are killing Americans and each other, by the carload.
So did Prieto. He failed a roadside sobriety test and confessed to drinking five beers before the rubber hit the road. Police had collared Prieto twice before for DUI. He was not deported.
In October, an illegal alien admitted drinking a 12-pack of beer before he killed someone in Tennessee. And in two weeks alone over late October and early November, World Net Daily has reported, drunk-driving illegals killed five people in North Carolina.
Highway homicide is a deadly and largely unknown aspect of illegal immigration, and startling data and horror stories from newspapers across the country show that the states with the highest numbers of illegals are, most likely, the most dangerous places to drive.
One such eye-opener appeared as "The hit-kill-and-run state" stories, published in 2005 in the Arizona Daily Star. "The seven states with the highest rates of fatal hit-and-run crashes," the paper reported, "are also the seven states that have the most illegal immigrants, according to two think tanks." With 500,000 illegal aliens, or 9 percent of its population, the paper reported, Arizona ranked fifth in that measure behind California, Texas, Florida, and New York. About 5.6 percent of Arizona's fatal crashes between 1994 and 2004, the newspaper reported, were hit-and-run.
In California, the state with the most illegal immigrants, more than 7 percent of the fatal wrecks were hit-and-run, the Daily Star reported, the highest in the nation. With one million unlicensed drivers., California also boasted the highest number of hit-and-runs of all the states, according to a 2003 San Francisco Chronicle article.
More recent data on California, gleaned from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System, show that California's figure for fatal hit-and-runs in 2005 reached 9 percent, or 347 of 3,846 fatal crashes. Arizona's number stayed the same as its average from 1994 to 2004. The figure for Texas came in at 5 percent, an increase from 4.5 percent. Florida's figure increased from 4.9 percent to 5.6 percent.
By contrast, the states with the lowest percentage of fatal hit-and-run crashes also had the lowest number of illegals. In Vermont, with 4,000 illegals in 2005, the Federation for American Immigration Reform reports, one of 68 fatal crashes was a hit-and-run. Wyoming, also with 4,000 illegals, posted just one hit-and-run fatality among 147 total, or 0.6 percent. Maine too had just 4,000 illegals. Just one of its 151 fatal crashes was a hit-and-run.
"A lot of it," a traffic expert told the paper, "is the Mexican border." Indeed it is. And not just for hit-and-run killers.
More proof that illegal immigrants are lethal drivers is found in the evidence tying unlicensed drivers, who are disproportionately illegal aliens, to traffic fatalities. The American Automobile Association (AAA) published the second of two reports in 2003 documenting that unlicensed drivers are more lethal than licensed drivers. That report, entitled Unlicensed to Kill, The Sequel, used numbers gathered between 1993 to 1999. Unsurprisingly, correlating the AAA data with other figures detailing the number of illegal aliens in a state demonstrates that states with the highest numbers of fatal crashes involving unlicensed drivers correspond to the states with the highest numbers of illegal aliens. In California, with the highest population of illegals, at least 20.9 percent of the drivers in fatal crashes were unlicensed. Arizona's and New Mexico's figures were even higher: 21.1 and 23.1. Maine's figure was just 6.1 percent, Wyoming's, 11.2 and Vermont's 13.7.
Law enforcement authorities confirm that unlicensed drivers are disproportionately illegal aliens. According to World Net Daily, a district attorney in New York has reported that at one point, 66 percent of those charged with misdemeanor unlicensed driving were illegals. "Unfortunately," a highway patrolman in California told WND, "the undocumented drivers here [drive unlicensed] more than the natives." In short, illegal aliens drive without licenses and cause fatalities in numbers exceeding their proportion of the population.
Assuming these data aren't a wild fluke, the obvious question is why illegal aliens, mostly Mexicans, are so often unlicensed, and why they so often leave the scene of an accident. The answers are hardly a mystery. They are unlicensed because they are illegal, although being illegal does not mean they will be unlicensed, as THE NEW AMERICAN showed in its story about Wisconsin's generous policy on licensing ("Illegal Immigrants in a State of Disarray," Feb. 19).
With respect to hit-and-runs, illegals have nothing to gain and everything to lose by hanging around to face the law's mariachi band. If caught, they face deportation, although deportation, as the Cerans and others have learned, is hardly a fait accompli.
"A Cultural Thing"
Yet another pathology among illegal aliens is drunk driving, which explains, in large measure, why illegal aliens are such lethal drivers. Illegal aliens in particular and unassimilated Hispanics in general are often indifferent to drunk-driving laws, thanks to Latin American cultural attitudes, which are more liberal than ours. The repercussions of those attitudes surface in data proving that Hispanics are arrested for drunk driving in numbers exceeding their percentage of the population.
The data and strong anecdotal evidence show that large numbers of Hispanics, particularly Mexicans, are not assimilating American society's norms on drinking and driving, but instead retaining and even celebrating cultural norms and attitudes they carry across the border.
More than one publication has flatly proven, and stated, that culture is the problem when it comes to Hispanics and high arrest rates for drunk driving. In May, the Record of Stockton, California, in "DUI's Culture Gap," reported that between 2000-2004, 54 percent of all arrests for drunk driving in Stockton were Hispanic men, although they make up only 35.3 percent of the population. The paper further parsed the data, but you get the idea. Hispanics, the paper reported, accounted for more DUI arrests than any other racial group. The Record's data are nothing new. Overall in California, Mothers Against Drunk Driving reported in 2001, Hispanics accounted for 44.1 percent of DUI arrests but composed just 31.3 percent of the population. California's data comport with those of other states, the Record reported, including North Carolina and Texas.
Because Hispanics are arrested for drunk driving in numbers exceeding their proportion of the population, it's hardly a long jump to conclude that many are illegal aliens, but again, illegality does not explain these statistics. Driven magazine, published by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, disclosed an unspoken truth in a 2001 article entitled "Cultural Impact": Mexican culture encourages heavy drinking.
The Mexican mother of a four-year-old mangled by a drunk driver explained the problem. "In Mexico," she said, "the culture is very much a drinking culture." Reported the same article, "Hispanic drivers are more likely than Anglo drivers to consume more alcohol more frequently and have been shown to be more likely than Anglos to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level over .05 percent. Hispanics also believed that it takes six to eight drinks to affect driving, while Anglos thought two to four drinks affected driving."
In 2003, the Austin-American Statesman published an article titled "Hispanics and DUI: A Troubling Trend," revealing similar statistics to those published in the Stockton Record. "One thing I have noticed," a cop told the paper, "is that the Hispanics I arrest for DWI, 90 percent of the time, are more drunk than the white and black people I arrest." The paper also quoted a professor at the University of Texas who studied Hispanics and drinking. "The profile of a drunk driver in California," Raul Caetano told the paper, "is a young Hispanic male, and I bet you have a similar situation all over the Southwest." And "the traditional pattern of drinking in Mexico is one of infrequent drinking of high amounts."
The Record of Stockton affirmed that truth. "The Latino community creates its own problems," Joe Ynostroza, an expert on Hispanics and alcoholism, told the paper. "The problem is especially acute in Mexico," the paper averred. "Most of this is first- or second-generation Mexican males," Ynostroza said. "Alcoholism runs rampant in the Mexican Latino community."
In the words of one Hispanic cop: "It's a cultural thing."
Microcosm: Virginia's Eastern Shore
"Harvest of Death," published in Norfolk's Virginian Pilot in October 2005, put a journalistic microscope on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Hispanic "migrants," meaning the illegal aliens who pick tomatoes there, are driving a wave of unprecedented road crime and exemplify all the aforementioned problems.
Hispanics "driving rogue vehicles," the Pilot reported, injured 90 persons and killed 18 between 2002 and the time of the newspaper's report. Why the paper used "rogue" to describe the vehicles, instead of the drivers, we can only guess, but "the fatalities represent about one-fourth of the 71 highway deaths on the Eastern Shore in that period." Yet Hispanics are just 5 percent of the population of 51,000. Unsurprisingly, when the number of illegals grows during picking season, so does the number of fatalities.
No wonder the 77 miles of the Eastern Shore's U.S. 13, from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to Maryland, the Pilot reported, is "one of the most treacherous highways in Virginia," with a fatality rate in 2003 "more than four times the rates on Interstates 64, 81 and 95 in Virginia."
In only three of the 18 fatal wrecks, the paper reported, did the Hispanic driver have insurance. Other common features in these wrecks? No inspection stickers, no driver's license, and plenty of booze.
Reviewing 179 crash reports from state police involving Hispanic drivers between 2002 and 2004, the paper discovered that 75 percent were uninsured, "more than four times the national rate for uninsured motorists." As well, "nearly all" the Hispanic drivers used cars "registered to other drivers" and 93 percent of the vehicles carried "out-of-state tags--most of them from Tennessee." The paper did not report it, but most of these Hispanics were likely illegal aliens. One cop complained that officials often don't know which embassy to contact after a fatality.
When Will It End?
And when you mention this vehicular rap sheet, the open-borders crowd will complain that illegals "do the jobs Americans won't do." Well, they also do other things most Americans won't do. They drive without licenses or insurance. They hit and run. They drive drunk.
Part of the problem--hit-and-run fatalities and unlicensed, uninsured drivers--is their illegal status. The other part--drunk-driving--is cultural. But another different problem is their causing a backlash against legal immigrants who assimilate, obey the law and become good citizens. They, too, must be aghast.
Whatever the problem, most American policymakers are clearly unconcerned. But maybe when the son or daughter of a congressman or president is tragically killed, they will, at long last, stop illegal immigration. As the Cerans of this country know, Americans face enough homegrown highway hooligans without importing more.
R. Cort Kirkwood is managing editor of the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, Virginia.