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Date published: 3/17/2011
FORT BELVOIR--This week's arrest of an illegal immigrant charged in a fatal crash in Fairfax County is again focusing attention on federal efforts to detain aliens accused of drunken driving.
Police charged Carlos Sanchez-Ramos, 33, of Springfield with aggravated involuntary manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and other counts.
Authorities say he lost control of his car on Richmond Highway on Monday, striking a Ford Fusion and pushing it into oncoming traffic. The Fusion was struck head on, killing 54-year-old Paul Krause of Fairfax Station. Police say Sanchez-Ramos fled the scene with a 3-year-old boy. He was arrested a short distance away.
Sanchez-Ramos entered the country illegally and was deported to Honduras in 2004, but returned to the U.S. between his deportation and 2007, according to immigration authorities.
In November 2007, Sanchez-Ramos was arrested in Fairfax County and charged with drunken driving. At the time, Fairfax authorities did not check to see if those arrested were illegal immigrants, and no effort was made by immigration authorities to detain or deport him.
Fairfax has been conducting those checks since March 2009 of virtually all people who are arrested and booked by sheriff's deputies under a partnership with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs enforcement called "Secure Communities."
The case is reminiscent of an August crash in neighboring Prince William County that killed a Benedictine nun. The man accused in that case is 23-year-old Carlos Montano, who arrived in the United States from Bolivia with his family as a 9-year-old boy and was not detained by immigration authorities despite several arrests on drunken driving charges.
ICE says it is focusing on detaining and deporting criminal aliens who commit serious crimes. But it is not clear exactly where drunken driving falls on that list of serious crimes.
In a report released earlier this month looking into the circumstances of Montano's case, which caused an uproar in Prince William County and among activists nationwide, ICE said that nationally it "simply does not have the funding that would be required to detain all aliens charged with or convicted of DUI offenses."