On Sunday morning, August 1, a tragic accident occurred. Three sisters from a Richmond, VA convent were en route to the Prince William monastery for a retreat.
Sister Connie Ruth Lupton, 75, was driving; Sister Charlotte Lange, 70, was in the front-passenger seat; Sister Denise Mosier, 66, was in the back. Their Toyota Corolla was hit head on by a drunk driver. Sister Mosier was pronounced dead at the scene; Sister Charlotte Lange and Sister Connie Ruth Lupton remain hospitalized and on respirators. The friends of the sisters are maintaining a constant vigil, saying prayers, hoping the sisters will recover.
About 8:30 Monday night, the doorbell rang at St. Benedict Monastery in Prince William County, and Sister Andrea Verchuck, the sub-prioress, rose from her desk to see who was there. On the slate front porch stood a man and a woman. The man and woman at the monastery door were the parents of Carlos Martinelly Montano, the driver charged with manslaughter in the crash. Mr and Mrs Martinelly came to the nuns' home to seek forgiveness for their son. They shared that he had a very bad drinking problem but he was a good man. They have been struggling to help him recover. After many tears, the sisters of St. Benedict Monastery said they forgave Carlos and before the media, pleaded that they not use their sister's death for political purposes in this very volatile immigration debate.
The local newspapers also spoke with the the Martinelly Montano family to understand their background. Mrs. Martinelly shared that the family entered the United States illegally in 1996 from Bolivia, when Carlos was 8. They spent more than a decade as undocumented immigrants, however in 2007, the parents, their daughter and their son Carlos filed for and obtained work permits from the DHS. Anthony Guerrieri, a spokesman for the temporary employment agency that hired Martinelly-Montano in April, 2007 said in an e-mail that the suspect "successfully cleared the . . . employment verification process and upon hire, was eligible for employment in the U.S."
Martinelly-Montano did have his day in local courts for his drinking problems. However he was not required to serve any of his 30-day sentence for the first drunk driving arrest and a Prince William County judge required Montano to serve only 20 days of his approximately one-year sentence on his second conviction.
Even though he was in LEGAL status in 2007, after Martinelly-Montano's second drunken driving arrest in October 2008, ICE officials filed papers in immigration court that BEGAN deportation proceeding, ICE officials said. However, he was released on his own recognizance while awaiting a hearing. The understaffing in Immigration Courts has created a severe backlog in court cases being heard. The initial hearing was set for April 21, 2009, then postponed to May 7, 2009, then delayed until Dec. 3, 2009, then rescheduled for Aug. 19, 2010. Citing privacy laws, officials declined to specify the reasons for the postponements.
From my perspective, the Immigration Courts should be properly staffed and the back log should not be so massive. Immigration Reform will alleviate this. Martinelly-Montano, as with anyone who commits a crime of this nature, should face their punishment. In his case, once he serves his time for his crime, then he should be deported. His crime is his and he and he alone is accountable and should receive punishment. Neither the entire undocumented worker community NOR the entire Latino community should be demonized or held accountable for HIS Crime! Where the local courts face responsibility is for not having him serve time in jail. Where ICE faces accountability is ensuring they clear the backlog in the courts so those felonious criminals who commit crimes are processed and deported. This is why we need Comprehensive Immigration Reform! This is the logical approach.
Instead, in steps Corey Stewart, out to advance his own political career. Stewart is the Prince William board of supervisors chairman and has been planning on running for Lt. Governor since 2008. He is closely linked to John Tanton's group FAIR and NumbersUSA. In June, NumbersUSA reported Stewart was calling on Virginia legislators to adopt a racial profiling law similar to AZ's sb1070 in Virginia. Stewart even named it the "Virginia Rule of Law Campaign."
Stewart is following the usual FAIR/NumbersUSA tactic of demonizing ALL undocumented workers and racially profiling ALL Latinos in his attack of the suspect. He is conducting interviews with local news affiliates and Fox News in order to advance his career. The sisters of St. Benedict Seminary have begged Stewart not to use this tragedy to promote Hate and Fear, nor do they want him to demonize the entire Latino community. They said, "Christ's command is to forgive." However, Stewart is refusing to listen to them and instead continues to push his own agenda.