I have no idea what really happened on the 25th of November. I do know that Ruth Ann Storm was killed on the 100 block of 7th street. She was walking home a little before 1 am on a Sunday morning. She was walking on the west side of 7th street as shown in this photo. The side without sidewalks. I also know that Ruth Ann Storm left a teen aged son, who is now an orphan because he recently lost his father. The Laurel Leader provides more details.
Last week I learned that Rodolpho Esau Ramirez-Grijalva confessed to hitting Ruth Ann Storm. He confessed to fleeing the scene two and half weeks after concocting a false story saying that he was not driving his car that night. He was arrested and charged with multiple violations including hit and run and lying to police officers. If he is convicted, he will likely go to jail. He will then leave his one month old child and his wife. His wife and some associates may also be charged for their attempts at helping him to cover up the crime.
Rodolpho Esau Ramirez-Grijalva has a valid Maryland driver's license. His car is properly registered. He has the state-required automobile insurance. He is also an illegal immigrant.
Laurel Deputy Police Chief Rich McLaughlin said at last week's press conference that if Ramirez-Grijalva had remained at the scene of the accident, his citizenship status would not have been questioned.
I was confused about the ability of an illegal alien obtaining a valid driver's license in Maryland. A quick call to our Maryland State Delegate Ben Barnes set me straight. It also gave me a deeper appreciation of the issue. According to Delegate Barnes, Maryland's motor vehicle law does not require proof of citizenship. Maryland only requires proof of identity to get a driver's license.
Part of me wants to build tall fences, deport all the illegal immigrants, and get tough. We are a land of laws and these people have broken our laws. Part of me is appalled that my state would grant a driver's license to an illegal alien. That part of me wants to go to Annapolis and grab our delegation and shake them until they pass tough immigration laws that stop illegal aliens.
But there is another part of me that is more confused than indignant. Is illegal immigration responsible for this tragedy? Do I really want to make it impossible for illegals to get a license and car insurance? With a license, at least they will pass a driver's test and have enough insurance to pay for my crushed bumper or worse, for my medical bills. What good will come from making those protections impossible? Will it keep illegals from driving?
Most illegals immigrate to America for the same reasons as my own ancestors. To take the dirtiest, most dangerous, most unpleasant and exploitative jobs available, for the lowest wages. My ancestors plunged into Pennsylvania coal mines and stoked Youngstown's blast furnaces. They were happy for any job and hopeful for the opportunity of a better life for their children. If we want to stop immigration, we only need to make it impossible for illegals to get jobs.
But of course it's not the same. My ancestors arrived legally in America. But that's not the most important difference between then and now.
I think the most important difference today is that many immigrants are reluctant to assimilate. My ancestors wanted to become American. Their native language was Slovak. Learning English was demanded. Slovak was never spoken around the children, except to conceal "adult" discussions. Spanish speaking immigrants today don't seem to have the same desire or need to learn English.
I guess my long-term advice to our delegates is to continue to allow anyone in Maryland to get a driver's license without proof of citizenship. However, I do want to change the current law so that everyone must pass a written and spoken English language test at the 7th grade level before getting a license. I believe that this will not only make them safer drivers, it may help all immigrants more quickly assimilate, thereby increasing their opportunities for a better life for their children.
I keep putting myself in Ramirez-Grijalva's shoes. If I was an illegal immigrant, would I be frightened to talk to the police after an accident? Especially if I could not speak any English?
His panic was understandable but I'm not condoning his crime. He confessed to leaving the scene of an accident. He may have been able to provide aid. He lied to the police.
We will never know, but maybe if he spoke a little English his decision might have been different that night. Sixty seconds is a long time.
I know that this is an important issue and many of you have strong opinions. I welcome and encourage your comments.