A blind person could have seen this one coming.
An illegal alien who caused a crash that seriously injured a Pennsylvania judge has fled the U.S. to his native Guatemala to avoid prosecution. Surprise. Surprise.
How did the alien get out? He boarded a commercial flight in Newark, N.J., and landed safely in his home country, thumbing his nose all the way at the U.S. legal system and our homeland security bureaucracy. Incredible!
A judge issued a warrant for Rigobert Garcia-Ortega's arrest for failure to appear after Garcia-Ortega was a no-show at a pretrial hearing in Montgomery County Court Thursday.
This incident explains why so many Americans oppose the amnesty bill that President Bush and Congress have been trying to ram down our throats. The bill would have given more rights to illegal alients, who currently enjoy protection under U.S. law even though they broke the law by entering this country illegally.
Garcia-Ortega's case is typical.
His lawyer managed to get the illegal alien out on bail after the crash and even got an out-of-county judge to hear the case because the crash victim was a member of the Montgomery County Court.
A new judge was specially appointed to handle the case when Montgomery County judges were recused from handling the matter to avoid the appearance of impropriety, according to reporter Carl Hessler, who filed a story about the fugitive for The Mercury in Pottstown.
Imagine that. We wouldn't want the illegal alien to have to appear before a local judge. Montgomery County must pay for the expense to bring a judge from out of the region so the illegal alien can get a fair hearing.
Too bad the illegal fled the country before his fair hearing could be held.
Here's more information from Hessler's story that will leave you shaking your head:
Montgomery County Judge Thomas P. Rogers, 55, of Worcester, was injured during the 10:11 a.m. Dec. 17 crash at North Park Avenue and Amy Drive in Lower Providence. Authorities alleged a vehicle operated by Garcia-Ortega rear-ended Rogers' vehicle.
Garcia-Ortega, 23, was supposed to appear at Thursday's hearing during which Assistant District Attorney Wallis Brooks was seeking to revoke the $25,000 own recognizance bail that had allowed Garcia-Ortega to remain free pending trial on charges of accidents involving personal injury while not properly licensed and several summary traffic violations, according to Hessler's story.
"The commonwealth's concern at the time we filed the motion to revoke bail was that the defendant would flee the country," Brooks said. "Our concern proved valid when he in fact has fled the country."
Defense lawyer Patrick J. McMenamin Jr. told the judge he wrote to Garcia-Ortega on three occasions in preparation for Thursday's scheduled hearing but that he did not get a response.
However, McMenamin said he received a call Wednesday from Garcia-Ortega's interpreter, who advised that someone had driven Garcia-Ortega to Newark International Airport in New Jersey on June 20 to catch a flight to Guatemala.
"I assume that's what happened," McMenamin said.
McMenamin previously argued that Garcia-Ortega was not a risk to flee, claiming the man had resided at the same address since he came to the U.S. and that he lived and worked with relatives.
But McMenamin speculated Garcia-Ortega may have decided to flee because he feared languishing for a long time in county and federal custody before facing eventual deportation.
McMenamin believes Garcia-Ortega also was aware of news accounts about an Indonesian illegal immigrant who was sentenced this month to jail for driving without a license in connection with a fatal crash on the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and who faces deportation.
"I think that was of great concern to him. I think at that point in time that is when he probably made the decision," said McMenamin, speculating Garcia-Ortega may have believed that if he was going to be deported anyway he may as well go to Guatemala now.
County authorities plan to contact immigration officials to notify them about the turn of events.
"We would like to see him brought to justice. Obviously the matter is complicated now by the fact that he has left the confines of the United States and he's gone to a foreign country," Brooks said. "It is my hope that no matter how long it takes, be it weeks, months or years, somehow this man is brought to justice."
Authorities would also like to know who drove Garcia-Ortega to the airport. "I think that further investigation might be appropriate to determine exactly what transpired here with regard to this trip to Newark airport," Brooks said.
At the time of his arrest, Garcia-Ortega's bail was set at $50,000 cash. However, the bail was reduced to $25,000 unsecured at a January preliminary hearing under an agreement between police and defense lawyers in exchange for Garcia-Ortega's agreeing to waive the preliminary hearing, according to authorities.
Prosecutors then filed a request to revoke Garcia-Ortega's bail in April.
"We feel we did everything we could by filing the motion to revoke bail and being in a posture to aggressively pursue the charges," Brooks explained.
But a hearing on the bail revocation request was delayed pending the appointment of an out-of-county judge to hear the case.
A federal immigration detainer was not placed on Garcia-Ortega. County authorities speculated federal immigration officials don't necessarily detain illegal immigrants until they are convicted of crimes.
Prosecutors claimed Rogers, who is a former Lower Providence police chief, sustained "serious injuries" in the crash and was unconscious for more than two hours. In a criminal complaint, police said Rogers suffered injuries to the head and hospitalized.
This comedy of errors (actually a tragedy of errors) is exactly why the amnesty bill was defeated in the Senate.
An illegal alien who broke the law the day he entered this country violates traffic laws and injures a U.S. citizens (a judge no less). The illegal alien then manipulates the U.S. justice system to get out on bail and manages to flee the U.S. on a commercial flight.
Maybe we can have a legal scholar such as Sen. Ted Kennedy explain this to us.
Our government won't enforce the immigration laws already on the books. What makes you think adding new laws and making it easier for illegals to become citizens would deal with the problem of having 12 million undocumented aliens living in the United States?
We have to secure the border first, then address the problem of the illegals among us.