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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions: S. 3276

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions: S. 3276

Senator Chuck Grassley
Congressional Record: 114th Congress
14 July 2016

By Mr. GRASSLEY (for himself, Mrs. Ernst, Mr. Lee, Mr. Wicker, Mr. Vitter, Mr. Hatch, Mr. Moran, Mr. Perdue, Mr. Inhofe, and Mr. Sessions):

S. 3276. A bill to make habitual drunk drivers inadmissible and removable and to require the detention of any alien who is unlawfully present in the United States and has been charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, the Obama administration is putting Americans into harm's way by releasing drunk drivers who are in the country illegally back onto our streets. This is unbelievable when you consider that every two minutes, a person is injured by a drunk driver, and every day in America, 27 people die as a result of a drunk driving crash. These numbers translate into real people.

I would like to talk about my constituent, Sarah Root, who was killed by a drunk driver the day she graduated from college. On January 31, 2016, Eswin Mejia, a Honduran national in the United States illegally, was drag racing in Omaha, NE, with a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit. He struck 21-year-old Sarah Root's vehicle from behind and she was killed. Mejia was charged with felony motor vehicle homicide. Although state authorities reportedly contacted ICE several times and requested the agency take custody of him prior to his release from state custody, ICE refused. He was released on bond and is now a fugitive from justice.

In Kentucky, Chelsea Hogue and Meghan Lake were seriously injured by a drunk driver in the country illegally who had been previously deported five times in one week. On February 7, 2016, Jose Munoz Aguilar was arrested for drunk driving and colliding with a car occupied by the two young women, causing injuries to both women and putting one in a coma. Although Jose Aguilar was transferred to ICE custody, he was promptly released because he didn't meet the Obama administration's enforcement priorities. He remains at large.

In May, three people from a Texas family were killed by a suspected drunk driver who had an outstanding warrant for a previous drunk driving conviction. He had three prior DWI offenses. One of the three family members--18 year old Mauricio Ramirez--was scheduled to graduate from high school just a few short weeks later.

In Houston this May, an illegal immigrant who was driving drunk and evading authorities injured a high school senior and killed a young girl who were on their way home from prom. The driver had been previously deported and attempted to run from the scene.

On February 24, 2016, Esmid Valentine Pedraza was arrested in San Francisco, California, for the murder of Stacey Aguilar. Prior to allegedly committing the murder, Pedraza was reportedly arrested by ICE and placed in removal proceedings in August 2013 after Pedraza's conviction for DUI in Alameda County, California. Although ICE could have continued to detain him, ICE released him back onto the streets after he posted bond.

Mesa, AZ Police Department Sergeant Brandon Mendoza lost his life to an illegal immigrant who was driving the wrong way down a one-way street. The driver was three times over the legal limit and high on meth when he struck Sgt. Mendoza head on. Sgt. Mendoza had just finished his shift of keeping citizens and his community safe.

Police Officer Kevin Will of Houston, TX, was struck and killed by a drunk driver as he investigated a hit-and-run accident. The driver was in the country illegally.

In Phoenix, Police Officer Daryl Raetz was killed by a man who admitted to being drunk and high, and was in the country illegally. Officer Raetz was an Iraq war veteran and had been a police officer for 6 years. He left behind a wife and daughter.

Nobody argues that drunk driving is not a public safety risk, so it is remarkable that the Obama administration's own immigration enforcement priorities fail to take perpetrators off the street. Families coping with the grief of losing a loved one to such a senseless crime must also live with the reality that their government is quick to release offenders back into our communities.

Today, along with several other Senators, I am introducing the Taking Action Against Drunk Drivers Act. Our bill would ensure that federal immigration authorities take custody and hold anyone in the country illegally who has been charged with driving under the influence, DUI, or driving while intoxicated, DWI, taking them off the streets and protecting the public.

Additionally, my bill would make immigrants with three DUI or DWI convictions inadmissible to and removable from the country. Finally, it would make three DUI or DWI convictions an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act. This will allow for expedited removal and preclude eligibility for certain benefits and permanently bar legal admission into the country.

We cannot let this current system that promotes the reckless death of innocent Americans continue. I encourage my colleagues to join me in an effort to protect our citizens from these dangerous people.

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