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Will Arizona’s new immigration law increase hit-and-run accidents?

July 23, 2010

Will Arizona’s new immigration law increase hit-and-run accidents?

Fender BenderMy first reaction when I heard about Arizona’s immigration law SB 1070 was to think about hit-and-run drivers. I had recently been in an office where the receptionist was wearing a massive neck brace. She explained that two days earlier, she had been the victim of a hit-and-run accident.

The woman whose car had hit hers stopped to see if the receptionist, in her totaled car, was OK. The woman mentioned that she had a suspended license. When she saw the police arriving, the woman got back into her car and drove off. The police were unable to catch up with her.

This new law in Arizona requires law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect is an illegal immigrant. Not having the correct paperwork could mean jail time, a misdemeanor charge and possible deportation.

If legal and illegal immigrants are nervous about the police checking them for immigration paperwork, what will happen if they cause a car accident? In 2003, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that hit-and-run drivers killed 1,550 people. Causes for fleeing car accidents can be attributed to lack of insurance, drunkenness, immaturity, previous crimes and plain old selfishness.

A 2005 Arizona Daily Star article states that “[t]he seven states with the highest rates of fatal hit-and-run crashes are also the seven states that have the most illegal immigrants, according to two think tanks.”

Arizona is in the top five of these states estimated to have the most undocumented immigrants, but is second after California in terms of the highest percentage of fatal hit-and-run crashes.

Is there a connection between hit-and-run drivers and illegal immigration? We can’t know for sure, but if it is the case, it’s just another sign that the system of legal immigration should be repaired so that we won’t have to battle the undesirable symptoms of illegal immigration.

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  1. Rev Liana Rowe

    I would suggest that if your supposition of a correlation is, indeed, the case, it is NOT a symptom of unauthorized immigration, rather a symptom of a flawed interior enforcement strategy that might lead otherwise law-abiding persons to flee in order to avoid contact with law enforcement.

    • Immigration Conversation

      @Rev Liana Rowe, Thank you for your intelligent comment. I think most people agree that our immigration system is in need of reform--whatever viewpoints they may have on immigration. Even if we make mistakes, at least we could make some kind of change. As the adage goes, "God can't guide a parked car."

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