Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli simplifies enforcement of federal law

Consider this chronology:

Carlos Martinelly Montano is a 23-year-old illegal immgrant who lives in Bristow (Prince William County), Virginia. In July 2007, he was charged with drunk driving and later convicted. In March 2008 he was convicted of being drunk in public. Seven months later he was back in court for drunk driving after he was pulled over for speeding (going 55 in a 35 MPH zone). In April 2009, a jury sentenced him to a year in jail for that offense, though he only served 3 weeks. His driver license was also revoked, he was fined $5,000 and was sentenced to three years probation. Last year he was convicted of driving without a license. And then in a different county he was again found driving without a license.

Montano was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Naturalization officials twice, who set him free as they prepared for his deportation.

Now fast forward to last Sunday, August 1. Sister Denise Mosier, a 66-year-old Benedictine nun, was a passenger in a Toyota Corolla traveling north on Bristow Rd with two other nuns, on their way to a 5-day retreat. Montano was traveling south on the same road. He swerved off the road, hit a guard rail, then went back across the lanes into oncoming traffic, hitting the Toyota head on, killing Sr. Mosier and injuring the other two.

This is now Montano’s third drunk driving arrest in 5 years. He’s in jail with an October 3, 2010 court appearance.

This case is a tragedy. And it’s causing quite an uproar over a broken immigration system. Prince William County police had done their job. They arrested this man twice on drunk driving, identified him as an illegal immigrant, turned him over to federal authorities, who then dropped the ball and let him go. And now a nun is dead.

Coincidentally, Virgina attorney general Ken Cuccinelli recently issued an opinion stating that Virginia law enforcement officers are allowed to inquire of the immigration status of everyone they stop or arrest. He’s not suggesting that they be required to do so (as some articles have incorrectly stated), only that they are allowed to. He wrote in part, “So long as the officers have the requisite level of suspicion to believe that a violation of the law has occurred, the officers may detain and briefly question a person they suspect has committed a federal crime.”

In an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN tonight, Cuccinelli said that all law enforcement officers anywhere in the U.S. have always been able to arrest someone who is suspected of committing a federal crime. That’s what they do. And there is no reason to exclude immigration laws from that practice.

I could not agree more with Cuccinelli. His opinion cuts through all the crap and clarifies the situation perfectly. His opinion also makes it obvious that sanctuary cities are violating federal law. Simply put, they are taking one of the thousands of laws and saying, “if you violate this one law in our city, we won’t tell on you.” But of course all other federal laws are enforced.

Listen, we’ve got a broken immigration system. And now we’ve got a nun in Virginia who never made it to her retreat. Most Americans agree that we need to secure our borders; that’s priority number one. And there are certainly other aspects of this problem, but priority number two must be that we enforce our existing laws. It’s that simple.