The Deadly Consequences of Tolerating Illegal Immigration

When the Prince William County, Virginia, jail board recently took the unfortunate step of ending their 13-year-old 287(g) agreement with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), one particular statistic stood out. Since 2017, 1,612 out of the 2,639 illegal aliens the county handed over for possible deportation had been convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI).  That’s an astonishing 61 percent — or more than three out of every five. 

Yet that figure isn’t actually all that unusual.  In Fiscal Year 2019, ICE deported over 267,000 illegal aliens.  More than 74,000 of those deported had been charged or convicted of DUI.  That’s over 27 percent, and by far the single largest category of crimes involved.

Over the past 30 to 40 years, DUI laws have been dramatically strengthened in most states, while safety features of both vehicles and roads have been improved.  According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, DUI fatalities are down more than 50 percent since 1982.

But at the same time that DUI laws have been tightened, immigration enforcement has been loosened, as sanctuary policies at the state and local level have explosively proliferated across the country.  The fact remains that every time illegal alien drunk drivers are shielded in their communities and end up killing someone while behind the wheel, it was a completely preventable death, caused by someone who wasn’t supposed to be here in the first place.

Tragic examples abound, like Sarah Root of Iowa in 2016 and  Logan and Jessica Wilson in Oregon in 2018. Most recently in July, three members of the Thin Blue Line Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club in Texas were allegedly struck by an illegal alien already out on bail for another traffic crash which might also have been DUI-related. 

When it comes to immigration and DUI, it’s pretty apparent some don’t believe it is a serious enough crime to warrant deportation.  The Obama administration didn’t regard DUI as a “priority” for deportation.  Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) uses the odd euphemism “traffic violence.”  Former Vice-President Joe Biden even says he’d actually fire Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)  officers for arresting illegal aliens who weren’t guilty of a felony and went out of his way to stress, “I don’t count drunk driving as a felony.”

No, DUI isn’t a felony in most states unless it’s by a convicted serial repeat offender or causes serious injury or death.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious crime. Every DUI is arguably just a fatal crash averted, sometimes by no more than pure chance.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) notes that, “an average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before first arrest,” while according to the National Highway Safety Administration, “[e]very day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 50 minutes.”

The bottom line is the fewer DUI offenders we deport, the more people will die.

About Author


Dave joined FAIR in 2017 after more than ten years as an Assistant State Attorney in Broward County, Florida. His prosecutorial experience covered trial litigation at the misdemeanor and felony levels, drug court and mental health court, and two years as an intake attorney in the juvenile division working closely with law enforcement. Before this, he was a legislative analyst/staff attorney with the Judiciary Committee of the Florida House of Representatives, where he assisted state legislators in ensuring the effectiveness and constitutionality of legislation on a wide variety of subject matter. In both capacities, he often dealt with the interaction of state law and immigration. Dave holds BAs in History and International Relations from American University and a JD from Tulane University Law School.