Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Illegal in Colorado kept from ICE attention until he kills three in car crash

He had 12 aliases, two dates of birth and numerous brushes with the law, but Guatemala native Francis M. Hernandez passed himself off as a U.S. citizen, and somehow managed to stay off immigration officials' radar screen.

He is now behind bars, accused of causing a horrific crash at a Denver ice cream shop that killed three people, including a 3-year-old boy.

Colorado state law requires cities and counties to report suspected illegal immigrants to ICE, except for minor crimes. Hernandez was arrested more than a dozen times since 2003 by nine different state police departments, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation says. Some of the arrests were for criminal impersonation and forgery; the bulk were for traffic violations, including driving without a license and driving without insurance.

On September 4, people in suburban Aurora saw Hernandez him speeding, weaving in and out of traffic and running a red light before his Chevrolet Suburban slammed into a pickup and pushed it into a Baskin Robbins shop. Waiting inside for ice cream with his mother was a 3-year-old boy who died, as did the two women who were in the pickup.

Hernandez now faces charges of vehicular homicide, hit and run and reckless driving. At last, ICE has placed a hold on him.

Despite his legacy of arrests, federal immigration officials were out of the loop, as local police never reported Hernandez to ICE. This April, Aurora police stopped him for speeding. Denver police didn't contact ICE after Hernandez committed a traffic infraction in July.

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