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Drunken Immigration Policy

Another bad Ninth Circuit ruling undermines Rule of Law.

In a decision most Americans will find appalling, a three-judge panel on the reliably leftist Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that “habitual drunkenness” cannot be used as a basis for deporting illegal aliens. “We hold that, under the Equal Protection Clause, a person’s medical disability lacks any rational relation to his classification as a person with bad moral character, and that [the section] is therefore unconstitutional,” wrote Jimmy Carter-appointee Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt for the majority.

The law to which Reinhardt refers is the Immigration and Nationality Act passed by Congress more than 50 years ago. It states that poor moral character is another ground for deporting illegal aliens. Volume 5 chapter 12 of the law cites several examples of “moral turpitude” including serious felony convictions, participation in genocide or torture, two or more gambling offenses, prostitution or drug-trafficking, human smuggling, failure to support dependents — and habitual drunkenness.

Salomon Ledezma-Cosino, a Mexican citizen who has lived illegally in U.S. since 1997, is the individual the federal government is trying to deport. He has eight kids, five of whom are American citizens, and he works in the construction industry to support his family. His case dates back to 2008, when Ledezma-Cosino was initially detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which began removal proceedings based in part on medical records indicating he consumed an average of a liter of tequila per day for 10 years. In addition, he was diagnosed with acute alcoholic hepatitis, decompensated cirrhosis of the liver and alcoholism. The court also revealed he has at least one conviction for drunken driving.

But for unfathomable reasons, a couple of leftist judges have decided that the primary argument for his deportation — as in Ledezma-Cosino is here illegally — isn’t even part of the equation. “The theory that alcoholics are blameworthy because they could simply try harder to recover is an old trope not supported by the medical literature,” the ruling states. “Rather, the inability to stop drinking is a function of the underlying ailment.”

That underlying ailment has resulted in one drunk driving conviction. Yet as the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reminds us, 27 people a day die in drunk driving crashes, and the average drunk driver has driven drunk more than 80 times before his or her first arrest. Thus it stands to reason that Ledezma-Cosino’s lone conviction for drunken driving is the result of sheer luck.

Thousands of Americans haven’t been so lucky. After his 25-year-old son Drew was killed by a drunk driving illegal alien five years ago, Don Rosenberg set out to determine how many other American families endured the same unnecessary fate. Since government entities don’t keep statistics that identify the legal status of drunk drivers, he was forced to compile reams of stats and studies on his own. Based on his calculations, Rosenburg estimates that unlicensed drivers annually kill as many as 7,500 Americans — and more than half are victims of illegals. Both the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee support his claims. William Gheen, spokesman for the latter, said, “It is our official estimate that more than 3,000 U.S citizens lose their lives each year due to the insufficient enforcement of our existing border and immigration law.”

Rosenburg discovered something even more damning. “Not only were unlicensed drivers killing people in numbers only exceeded by drunk drivers,” he said, “but many times they were barely being punished and many times faced no charges at all.”

Some of the carnage is facilitated by the Obama administration. On Wednesday, it was revealed that a drunk driving, drag racing illegal who killed a Nebraska woman wasn’t held by ICE because his recklessness did “not constitute a crime of violence,” the agency said in letter to Congress sent last month.

In February, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) took DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to task after at least three criminal aliens charged with drunken driving were released — despite their implications in a murder and incidents involving serious injuries of Americans while driving drunk. A Johnson memo bared the priorities of an administration bent on granting amnesty to as many illegals as possible: Only aliens convicted of a felony or multiple misdemeanors, deemed a threat to national security, or discovered to be recent border crossers allegedly receive priority in the administration’s deportation initiatives. Goodlatte and Grassley warned that ICE’s actions constitute “a complete abandonment” of their law enforcement duties.

Circuit Judge Richard Clifton, appointed by George W. Bush, was the Ninth Circuit panel’s lone voice of reason. “If chronic alcoholics really had no ability to control their conduct, then such individuals would never be able to stop drinking,” he wrote “We know that is not the case, as Ledezma himself laudably demonstrated. Chronic alcoholics do not have to be habitual drunkards.”

Habitual drunkards or not, illegal aliens are still illegal aliens, and no American should have to endure the death of a loved one to satisfy the legal and moral bankruptcy of the Obama administration — aided and abetted by a Ninth Circuit court panel utterly bereft of common sense and common decency.

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