Floor Statement of Senator Elizabeth Dole on that would prevent illegals convicted of DWI from receiving legal status

Prevent Illegals convicted of DWI from receiving legal status
by Elizabeth Dole

Delivered on 6 June 2007.

Madam President, I am very concerned that amendments to this bill are being limited because there are many issues that deserve attention in this debate. For instance, in my home state of North Carolina, we have had a number of fatal automobile accidents caused by an intoxicated person who was in the United States illegally. Sadly, just yesterday morning on Interstate 40 near Raleigh, a man was killed on his way to work when his vehicle was struck by an SUV barreling across the median. The SUV driver, according to initial news reports, is an illegal alien, who now faces a number of criminal charges, including DWI.

In several of these incidents, the illegal alien has a record of DWI, sometimes repeated offenses, but has been caught and released. Just this past March, in Johnston County, North Carolina, a 9-year-old boy and his father lost their lives in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver who had been convicted twice of drunken driving and had an outstanding warrant stemming from a probation violation…and he was in the United States illegally. Another tragic case was the death of Scott Gardner, a Gaston County school teacher, who was killed in 2005 by a drunk driver – a driver who was an illegal alien with five previous DWI charges. I want to thank my colleague Richard Burr who introduced the Scott Gardner Act to deal with this serious issue, and on the House side, my good friend Sue Myrick has been a true leader on this front.

I hear from many North Carolinians who ask me: What is Washington doing to stop this from happening? When are we going to take action to make our communities safer?

And such senseless tragedies are not unique to North Carolina. Automobile accidents caused by intoxicated illegal aliens are occurring around the nation – too often killing innocent people who are just going about their daily lives, or leaving the victims with crippling, disabling injuries.

It is a privilege, not a right, for an immigrant to receive legal status to live in the United States of America. My amendment would ensure that this privilege is not granted to an illegal alien with a DWI conviction.

No question, our DWI laws should be vigorously enforced, regardless of the offender’s immigration or citizenship status.

Madam President, my amendment addresses an all too prevalent problem and should be considered. And there are a number of other amendments that deserve a place in this debate. The bill we are considering would have enormous ramifications for nearly every American…as well as those who want to work in this country or become American citizens. We must do our due diligence and not rush this bill through. The majority in this body must not stifle the voice of the minority members. More amendments must be considered.