Just a week after he copped a plea in a drunken-driving rap, President Obama’s illegal-alien uncle has landed a hardship driver’s license from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, making it perfectly legal for him to drive in Massachusetts – even though the feds say he doesn’t belong here.
Onyango Obama, 67, who lost his regular license for 45 days last week, scored his limited license yesterday from the Registry’s Wilmington branch, after convincing a hearing officer that life without wheels would have posed an undue hardship on his livelihood as a liquor-store manager. Obama bolstered his case with a letter from his employer, Conti Liquors, as well as proof that he’d enrolled in an alcohol-treatment program.
“He met all of the criteria,” RMV spokeswoman Sara Lavoie said.
Of the state’s decision to award Obama a license even though the federal government considers him an illegal alien, Lavoie would only say, “Registry business is based on Registry records.”
The license allows Obama to drive from noon to midnight.
The license award drew fire from one advocate of tough enforcement on illegals, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson.
“Our democracy is predicated on law,” Hodgson said. “When we start to interpret these laws differently and manipulate them the way we want them to work for certain people, we start to send a mixed message to people that the law doesn’t really matter. Its subject to interpretation. You don’t have to follow the law. They find ways to justify it. We need the laws to be very clear. We need ‘no’ to mean ‘no’ again.”
Hodgson, along with sheriffs in Plymouth and Worcester counties, stood up for Secure Communities, a program that feeds local police fingerprint checks into federal databases to check the citizenship status of accused criminals. Gov. Deval Patrick has refused to enroll the state in the program.
Obama, a Kenyan national, lost his license last week after admitting in court that Framingham cops had sufficient evidence to convict him in an August OUI bust. His lawyer, P. Scott Bratton, said Obama has an immigration hearing next month.
A judge continued Obama’s OUI case without a finding for one year, meaning he’ll face no further punishment if he stays out of trouble. Obama is the half-brother of President Obama’s late father, and the older brother of Zeituni Onyango, who was granted asylum in 2010.
Police arrested a man who had been previously deported three times on suspicion of drunken driving, resisting arrest and hit-and-run, according to the Escondido Police Department.
Juan Tello Flores, 25, was stopped by officers in the area of Bear Valley Parkway and Suburban Hills Drive about 9:12 p.m. Sunday on suspicion of drunken driving, said Lt. Craig Carter.
The man allegedly fled and officers chased the vehicle until it crashed into two other vehicles, injuring one person, Carter said.
Flores was booked into the Vista jail on various charges, including felony hit-and-run, drunken driving, driving on a suspended license, resisting arrest and felony evading with injury, according to police. Immigration authorities placed an immigration hold on Flores.
The man had been formally deported three times and had voluntarily returned to Mexico 12 times, Carter said. He also had five previous drunken driving arrests, Carter said.
A Virginia judge has openly defied his state’s Supreme Court, ignoring a key immigration ruling in order to reopen the case of an immigrant slated for deportation.
In a move that stunned attorneys involved in the case, Loudoun County District Court Judge Dean Worcester declared last week that he would not heed a January opinion by the Virginia Supreme Court. That ruling said judges could not use a certain legal provision to revisit convictions for immigrants who claim their attorneys did not tell them they could be deported.
Worcester, who already has reopened several immigrants’ cases, did not agree. But rather than take it on the chin and follow precedent, the judge granted himself an exception.
“If this court were to abide by (the Virginia Supreme Court ruling), a constitutional violation will stand uncorrected,” the judge wrote. “The court will not allow this to happen.”
Neither the defense nor the prosecution saw that coming. Rob Robertson, the immigrant’s attorney in the case, told FoxNews.com that, although he was delighted with the ruling, he was “shocked” by it.
“I think I’m more shocked than most other people that Judge Worcester ruled the way he did,” Robertson said.
The prosecutor in the case has filed an appeal.
In the judge’s opinion, Worcester acknowledged that his court is bound to follow precedent, particularly when the precedent comes from a higher court. However, he said, that standard “is not absolute and there are rare exceptions.”
Consider this one of them.
The case in question involved an immigrant who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor larceny charge in 2005. He was originally charged with a felony count but as a result of the plea agreement received a suspended sentence of 12 months in jail — meaning he did not serve time. However, according to the court he was never told by his attorney that his conviction could have ramifications for his immigration status. Sure enough, the federal government in September 2010 ordered him deported to Peru.
Because he was not in custody, the defendant could not challenge his treatment on a habeas corpus claim. Under Virginia law, the window also had long since passed to file a motion to reopen the case. So the defendant, Edgar Cabrera, pursued an avenue which had been used by other immigrants facing deportation — citing a “writ of error” claiming he received ineffective counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment.
Backing up this defense was a U.S. Supreme Court ruling a year ago, Padilla v. Kentucky, which held that an attorney “must inform a client whether his plea carries a risk of deportation.”
But the Virginia Supreme Court came back last month and ruled that the “reliance on Padilla is misplaced.” Further, the court said defendants can only challenge their case on these grounds by citing an error that would have prevented a judgment.
“While ineffective assistance of counsel may render a judgment voidable upon the necessary showing, it does not render the trial court incapable of rendering judgment,” the court ruled.
Though that ruling dealt with the cases of two other immigrants facing deportation, not the case of the immigrant ordered back to Peru, Robertson said he assumed the state Supreme Court decision effectively ended his client’s chance at a new hearing.
“Frankly, I had already told my client he was going to lose,” Robertson said.
Instead, Worcester threw out Robertson’s client’s guilty plea and reopened the case, scheduling a preliminary hearing for March 31.
Robertson, while noting that the “fight” is not over, said the ruling was correct, even if unexpected. He said the state Supreme Court had basically taken away defendants’ right to seek any “remedy” after the fact should they realize later on that their legal advice was not sufficient.
“A lot of these people don’t figure out they’re in trouble … until immigration comes knocking,” he said.
But Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney James Plowman, who on Tuesday appealed the decision to the local Circuit Court, said the judge’s argument “assumes that there is a remedy for every situation, which there’s not.”
Plowman said he was “a little bit shocked” by Worcester’s ruling, arguing that for a judge to vacate a ruling years down the road is tantamount to a dismissal.
“If you start vacating cases that are five and 10 years old, you might as well just dismiss them, because the likelihood of the prosecution being able to resurrect a case that’s 10 years old, track down witnesses… you really… put our backs to the wall here,” he said.