- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Virginia Beach officials seemingly object more to Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly than to a system that enabled an intoxicated illegal alien with a drunken past to be behind the wheel of an automobile that resulted in the deaths of two teenage girls.

Mr. O’Reilly has highlighted this sad, unforgivable story on his nightly show. It is the story of a politically correct system that was blind to the drunken revelry of 22-year-old Alfredo Ramos, the illegal alien who had three alcohol-related convictions before the night in late March, when his vehicle slammed into the rear of a vehicle idling at a red light and snuffed out the lives of Alison Kuhnhardt and Tessa Tranchant.

It is the story of a judicial system that essentially admonished Ramos with a stern warning after he was convicted of driving under the influence in February. It is the story of Chesapeake Judge Colon Whitehurst, who gave Ramos a 90-day suspended sentence, fined him $250, revoked his driver’s license and ordered him to participate in an alcohol-awareness program.

The revoking of his driver’s license was the most absurd element of the sentence — for Ramos did not have a valid driver’s license. He had a phony one, which he had purchased for $200 from a Florida-based company.

It is the story of a city that instructs police officers not to seek the immigration status of defendants charged with misdemeanors. The policy is the brainchild of Virginia Beach Police Chief Jake Jacocks Jr., who thinks it is useful in getting the illegal community to report criminal activities and aid in their prosecution.

It is a story that Mr. O’Reilly has amplified with outrage and incredulousness, sentiments no doubt shared by all too many residents in Virginia.

What was this illegal alien doing out on the streets, given his past? How was he afforded so many civil liberties in which his first act upon entering this country seven years ago was an illegal one? You won’t find any answers from the lawmakers of Virginia Beach.

Instead, they say Mr. O’Reilly is playing politics with what is essentially a drunken-driving case, which the city is prepared to prosecute. Ramos has been charged with aggravated involuntary manslaughter in the girls’ deaths and faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

They say drunken drivers remain the scourge of our roadways, which is true but misses a fundamental point. This was one drunken driver who did not have to be our problem. He already had three convictions related to alcohol. Worse, he wasn’t even supposed to be in our country.

Somehow, though, because of our lawmakers’ urge to afford latitudes to illegal aliens that American-born citizens do not merit, Ramos was allowed to go his merry way until it cost the lives of two teens.

You wonder if an American with the alcohol-reeking background of Ramos would have been able to skate through the legal system as he did. You wonder if the DUI conviction alone — forget the phony ID, the identity theft, the no car insurance and the report of the arresting officer who wrote that Ramos “almost ran him down” — would have merited a harsher sentence for an American.

Alas, we live in an upside-down time. We live in a time in which a Virginia Beach police spokesman says it possibly could be a violation of an illegal alien’s civil rights to ask if the person is here legally or not.

To which could be asked: What civil rights? Just wondering, but which part of the Constitution covers the civil rights of illegal aliens? Officials of the two Tidewater cities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake have been ill-prepared before Mr. O’Reilly’s national spotlight. His message is hardly the problem.

The problem is a system that throws up its hands in resignation to illegal aliens. And it is a system that is hardly unique to Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

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