WASHINGTON — Top GOP leaders in the Senate want answers from the Department of Homeland Security about an illegal alien who allegedly crashed a charter bus in Louisiana last week on August 28 killing two and injuring around 40. The members gave DHS Secretary Johnson until September 12 to respond.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Chairman on Immigration David Vitter and Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy requested Sec. Johnson to answer questions about Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a native of Honduras, who drove a party bus without a drivers license or insurance, reportedly lost control of the vehicle on I-10 in St. John the Baptist Parish and smashed it into multiple emergency response vehicles that were on site to clear an earlier accident.
Among other issues, the GOP members want DHS to provide the alien registration number for Rodriguez, his complete alien file, temporary files, Service Center Files, and all documents and items contained in all of them that DHS has generated. The members also want a law enforcement summary on Rodriguez that details his criminal history and encounters with law enforcement among other documents.
The Senators also asked Johnson several questions about when Rodriguez entered the U.S. and if he was ever served a notice to appear in court for an immigration hearing as well as if he ever was previously removed from the United States.
According to local Louisiana reports, including the popular Hayride news blog, two people were killed — Jermaine Starr, a backseat passenger in a car that Rodriguez apparently rear ended and Spencer Chauvin, The St. John The Baptist Parish Fire District Chief. Dozens of others were injured.
As it turned out, Rodriguez was cited five separate times for driving without a license, The Times Picayune reported. He was last cited for not having a license at least 23 days before the crash.
Additionally, the according to Louisiana State Trooper Melissa Matey, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana State Police, the majority of the passengers on the bus were believed to be foreign nationals, Vitter Grassley, and Cassidy learned. All of these passengers, whose immigration status remains unclear, were reportedly being bused up to Baton Rouge to help with the cleanup from the recent floods in the area. It is still unknown how Rodriguez, an illegal alien, managed to become the driver of the bus.
Rodriguez also has a lengthy criminal record. In 2011, he was arrested by Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office for domestic abuse battery. Months later in June of that same year he was arrested by Jefferson Parish for 2nd degree battery and domestic abuse battery. Those charges were later dismissed in October of 2012. Between 2012 and 2014, he received citations that included not having a driver’s license, failure to maintain control of his vehicle, and an improper lane change.
“This criminal illegal alien was arrested numerous time by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, including on violent offenses and serious driving offenses, but he was never jailed for long or deported. He should never have been in the country, much less behind the wheel of a packed bus. This tragedy is exactly what Sanctuary Cities and similar policies lead to,” said Vitter.
The story stirred up further when Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry put out a statement about the incident laying blame on New Orleans for being the only city in the state to have sanctuary city policies.
“Sunday’s tragedy highlights the need for a sound immigration policy, including the ban of sanctuary cities. Amaya-Rodriguez has been encountered by law enforcement over a half a dozen times in the last five years, yet he continued to roam the streets until he took two lives,” Landry said in part.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu shot back that it was “shameful” that Landry “would politicize the fatal traffic accident for his own personal gain.”
“It makes no sense why he would attack our city – the driver of the bus does not live in in New Orleans and the company that employs him is not even permitted to operate here,” Landrieu said. “The old adage of never letting a good crisis go to waste is on full display.”