Putting the Blame Where It Belongs–on a Drunk Driver

Tipping Point For Outrage
In Hampton Roads Area, ’07 Deaths of Teens Fuel Policies on Immigrants

By Karin Brulliard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 5, 2008; B01
There have been no major flaps over day-labor sites here, or boiling controversies over immigrant boardinghouses or schools crowded with children who don’t speak English.
But a group has formed to fight illegal immigration. Calls about the issue to the area’s congresswoman have swelled. And Ray and Colette Tranchant want to sue the government over what they call its failure to enforce immigration laws.
The catalyst was a tragedy that roiled the Hampton Roads area and triggered stiffer local policies on illegal immigrants.
In March 2007, the Tranchants’ daughter Tessa, 16, and her best friend, Alison Kunhardt, 17, were killed in a car crash caused by a drunk driver who had a police record and was in the country illegally.
“What happened in Virginia Beach is they woke up Saturday morning and realized not only do illegal immigrants work in your town, live in your town, but they also kill people in your town,” then-Del. John J. Welch III (R-Virginia Beach) told reporters at the time.
Which is about as far down the road of demagoguery as one can drive, without a special operator’s permit allowing driving while racist. John Welch is a guy who knows how to stir up a lynch mob. In a different time (but not all that different) he’d have worn a white sheet. But these days the immigration issue is popular enough that any “then-Del” can stand up and lie bare-faced to the cameras, as long as he’s white and been here a generation.
Ray and Colette Tranchant are understandably heartbroken over the loss of their daughter and her best friend to a drunk driver. That, by the way, is who killed their kid–a drunk driver. A drunk driver who had a police record. A drunk driver who was in the country illegally.
Over 13,000 people lost their lives to drunk drivers in 2006, a quarter of them under 14 years old, which means they were not drivers, but victims. They were killed by drunks.
  • Not Hispanic drunks
  • Not illegal alien drunks
  • Just drunks

Ray and Colette, in their anger and grief, are suing the government for not enforcing immigration laws, as if that was the cause of their daughters death. Instead of working to close roadside taverns, where kids and adults drink and drive and kill 13,000 of their fellow citizens, Ray and Colette have decided instead to wave the flag of intolerance, joining the Welchs of the world who find it easy to rant about citizens who woke up Saturday morning and realized not only do illegal immigrants work in your town, live in your town, but they also kill people in your town.

That’s outrageous. That’s the kind of inflammatory nonsense that once got any black accused of any crime lynched in Virginia.

The illegal immigrants who work in your town mow your lawns, take care of your kids, wash dishes, do every unsavory job that your good old American local drunks won’t do and smile at you while they’re doing it.

The town drunk is no longer the subject of slightly amused forbearance. By the most conservative estimates, twenty million Americans are alcoholics. Tessa and Alison will not be brought back by demagoguing illegal immigrants–

–but it might make us churchgoing, god-fearing, family-loving supporters of popular passions and prejudices feel just a bit more smug as we tuck one away ‘for the road.’ And then go out to run for election as a good ol’ law an’ order bubba.

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