Illegal immigrants leave us a big tab
Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 14, 2004
Local law enforcement officials are getting a good taste of what it’s like to be trapped in
the national game of international relations. At one level, at least, it appears we need
On Saturday, Oct. 9, an Hispanic man was apparently involved in a two-car crash on
Marengo County Road 54. As a result, Lonnie Louis Minor lost his life and family
members lost one of their beloved. Today, Montelongo sits in the Marengo County
Detention Center on $5,000 bond awaiting his first court date.
While Montelongo must go through our judicial process &045;&045; and must be tried and
convicted &045;&045; his arrest certainly insinuates probable cause that he was involved in the
fatal Saturday morning accident. State Troopers have openly said alcohol was involved in
Our concern with law enforcement’s handling of this situation arises from the seemingly
reckless manner in which they handled an obvious suspect in the death of Minor. While
there is no larger issue at stake than when a life has been needlessly taken, this incident is
a frightening example of how some officials can become sidetracked when handling a
The Demopolis Police Department, we believe, should be commended for taking prompt
action in arresting a suspect &045;&045; they eliminated the opportunity for a suspect to flee the
area and maybe the country.
State Troopers, we believe, apparently became sidetracked during their initial
investigation early Saturday morning. There’s simply no other way to explain why they
let a suspect who allegedly had alcohol in his system walk away from the wreckage.
While there are Troopers in every part of the state with specific training in dealing with
illegal immigrants, none of that training was evidenced in Marengo County on Saturday
For that matter, it’s not even a matter of training. Rather, it seems to us that Alabama and
the United States may have a systematic problem. Federal Immigration and
Naturalization officers were unavailable to advise state and local authorities. INS, now
under the umbrella of the federal Department of Homeland Security, didn’t seem to have
the ability to communicate with officials at a local level. For that, it’s understandable why
State Troopers were uncertain how to handle their suspect.
While that issue must be addressed, we also believe another possible injustice could be
done in the coming weeks and months.
It is a long-standing policy of the federal government to deport illegal immigrants guilty
of crimes against U.S. citizens. We believe there’s a fine line between protecting one’s
civil rights (and ensuring due process) and common sense.
If the suspect in custody is found guilty by a judge and jury, will there be due process?
Will justice be served if a person who allegedly came here illegally is allowed to leave
without facing punishment? And what will stop that person from coming back to our
These issues extend far beyond the governmental power of local officials. In a day where
businesses seek cheaper labor &045;&045; all over West Alabama &045;&045; it is important that citizens
understand the consequences.
Lonnie Minor’s family has learned in the hardest possible way.