A 23-year-old illegal immigrant has been charged with drunken driving and involuntary manslaughter after a car crash in Virginia’s Prince William County that killed a nun and critically injured two others.
Immigration officials are being heavily criticized because Bolivian-born Carlos Martinelly Montano has an extensive criminal record and has been awaiting a deportation hearing for nearly two years.
However, after both of his previous arrests—including one for a DUI in 2008—the suspect was released on his own recognizance and ordered to stand trial in front of an immigration judge. As of the most recent incident, no deportation hearing had been scheduled.
Corey Stewart, the chairman of Prince William County’s Board of Supervisors, told The Associated Press (AP) that the tragedy shines a spotlight on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. He also expressed his frustration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—the Federal agency that failed to deport Montano even though it was made aware of at least one of his previous arrests.
"We handed him over to the Feds assuming he would be deported, but instead Federal authorities released him back into the neighborhood and he killed a nun," Stewart said. "We feel like we are beating our heads against the wall."
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, whose agency oversees the ICE, said that she will continue to investigate the incident.
"Why is it that this individual was still out driving?" she asked. "He was in removal proceedings. Why were the removal proceedings taking so long?"