While we generally know the federal government does a lousy job of limiting the activities of illegal immigrants in the United States, sometimes we read and hear things that still strike us as being truly unbelievable. In a letter to Congress released last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah Saldana addressed the bizarre tale of illegal Edwin Mejia, explaining why her agency was under no requirement to detain Mejia even after he was charged with vehicular manslaughter.
Mejia, who previously arrived in the United States during the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America, was charged earlier this year with vehicular homicide in Nebraska after killing a woman in Omaha. Mejia was allegedly street racing while he was drunk when he struck a car being driven by 21-year-old Sarah Root. Root died as a result of the crash, and Mejia was arrested. While in the custody of Douglas County, Omaha Police Department representatives repeatedly contacted ICE about coming to pick up Mejia. No one from the agency ever came, and, eventually, Mejia was able to post bond; he has since disappeared.
In her letter to Congress, Saldana said that nothing in current Obama administration policy or in federal law demanded that ICE detain Mejia. Furthermore, and quite stunningly, even an actual conviction of Mejia on the charge of vehicular manslaughter would not require ICE to detain him in any way. As Saldana wrote, “Even if he were convicted of the offense, motor vehicle homicide — driving under the influence, the conviction would not constitute a crime of violence under the immigration laws, and consequently, would not constitute an aggravated felony. The conviction would not render him subject to mandatory detention, nor would it significantly impact his eligibility to apply for relief or protection from removal.”
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large