An illegal immigrant who stands accused of killing three motorcyclists in a drunken-driving crash last week in Texas was once a “Dreamer,” approved for the Obama-era DACA deportation amnesty in 2013, and protected from removal in 2016 despite another drunken-driving arrest.
Ivan Robles Navejas, 28, won DACA status in 2013, about the same time he was charged with resisting arrest, but his status lapsed two years later, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In 2016, he was charged with DUI and appeared on ICE’s radar, but the agency didn’t pursue deportation because the Obama administration didn’t consider drunken driving an offense serious enough to trigger deportation.
Two years later, he was charged with aggravated assault. Police said he smashed his pickup into a man, pinning him to another vehicle, and then bit off his ear. He had conditional permanent legal status at the time, so he didn’t appear on ICE’s radar, the agency told The Washington Times.
It’s a long and disturbing record for Mr. Navejas, who last week drove up the number of charges. Authorities said he plowed into a motorcycle club out for a weekend ride, killing three of them and leaving four in critical condition in the hospital.
The club, the Thin Blue Line, is a pro-police organization comprising active, former or reserve officers. That makes the deaths, purportedly at the hands of an illegal immigrant, all the more striking.
Law enforcement and security experts say the case is an example of the recidivist nature of criminals and the importance of deporting illegal immigrants who are arrested or convicted of crimes.
Marguerite Telford, communications director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said the Obama administration had a clear opportunity to oust Mr. Navejas after that 2016 DUI arrest, but its policies ensured his protection.
She said that can be directly tied to the three men who are now dead.
“I think most Americans would assume that someone in this country illegally couldn’t repeatedly break the law, as Nevejas did, and continue to stay in the U.S. as our guest,” Ms. Telford said. “It certainly doesn’t give Americans confidence that our government prioritizes public safety.”
The fact that a drunken-driving charge wasn’t enough to qualify for deportation was particularly galling. Ms. Telford cited data from Mothers Against Drunk Driving that found one-third of those arrested on drunken-driving charges have previous DUI charges on their records.
In the incident over the weekend, Mr. Navejas stands accused of driving while drunk, swerving over the center line on a Kerr County road northwest of San Antonio and plowing into the group of motorcyclists.
The three men killed were Jerry Wayne Harbour, who went by “Wings” and was a national ambassador for the club; Joseph Paglia, president of the Chicago chapter, who went by “GT”; and Mike White, secretary of the Chicago chapter, who went by “Psycho.”
Four others were taken to the hospital in critical condition.
David Weed, a spokesman for the motorcycle club, said Mr. Navejas‘ immigration status was “a question best left to politicians and their policymaking.”
But he said Mr. Navejas should not have been set free on the streets.
“Looking at his record, it’s clear that Mr. Nevejas broke many laws while in this country and should have been one of two places: either in jail or simply not in this country,” Mr. Weed said.
“Mr. Navejas not only took three of our brothers away from us and their families, but he also took these brave men away from the country and communities they served and protected with valor and honor. Tens of thousands of Americans are less safe tonight because of the callous and careless action of Ivan Robles Navejas,” he said.
There is no prosecution record for Mr. Navejas after the 2016 DUI arrest.
He was charged in 2013 with resisting arrest in Bexar County. He was sentenced to two days in jail.
It’s not clear whether that was before or after he was approved for the DACA program, which generally required illegal immigrant Dreamers to keep relatively clean rap sheets.
Mr. Navejas‘ DACA status ended in 2015, and he was deportable at the time of his 2016 DUI arrest. ICE did not say whether Mr. Navejas was rejected or did not apply for a renewal of DACA.
In 2018, he was charged with aggravated assault in Bexar County. He was out on a $65,000 bond awaiting trial on the 2018 charge at the time of the crash this weekend.
In the 2018 incident, police said, Mr. Navejas was driving a Ford Ranger pickup truck, struck a man and pinned him to another vehicle, according to San Antonio’s KENS-TV. Mr. Navejas then allegedly bit the man on the back and ear, severing part of his left ear.
Ms. Telford said Mr. Navejas raises big questions about the presidential election this year.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the presumed Democratic nominee, was part of the Obama administration that issued the policies protecting Mr. Navejas from deportation. Under President Trump, those lenient policies have been canceled.
“Why under the Obama/Biden administration was DUI considered such a minor infraction of the law?” Ms. Telford said. “Americans shouldn’t have to die before immigration laws get enforced.”
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