MARCH 22, 2006
An onslaught of serious traffic accidents involving illegal immigrants on a major Colorado highway should provide support for two bills that would make human smuggling a state felony.
In the last two days alone, 100 illegal immigrants were involved in six major wrecks on Colorado’s Interstate 70 and state troopers arrested an additional 31 suspected illegal immigrants in two traffic stops.
Officials with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) office said “this is an everyday thing” and added that many of the illegal immigrants would be released because the onslaught of arrests would overwhelm a nearby detention facility in Aurora that has only 360 beds.
A series of accidents involving illegal immigrants on the same highway in the last few years, pushed Colorado State Senator Peter Groff to introduce two bills that would make immigrant smuggling a state felony and thus allow local police to make arrests. Currently, charges must be filed by federal authorities who rarely do.
A recent poll of state troopers revealed that every week officers encounter an average of more than 500 undocumented immigrants along Colorado highways, however, they have no jurisdiction to take action.
Federal authorities seem to dismiss the severity of the problem with one ICE spokesman saying that “simply being in the country illegally is an administrative, rather than a criminal, violation.” One political blog reminds the feds that illegal immigration is a crime that causes substantial harm to Americans and legal immigrants, particularly those in the most vulnerable sectors of our population.
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