Sunday, August 21, 2011

Arrested man’s immigration status prompts questions about his license (The Marietta Daily Journal)

Arrested man’s immigration status prompts questions about his license
by Marcus E. Howard

August 21, 2011 12:56 AM

MARIETTA — A Marietta man is accused of driving drunk with two young children who weren’t wearing seatbelts and with an expired license. Furthermore, he is suspected of being in the country illegally.

The incident raises the question of how did he ever get a valid driver’s license if he’s here illegally?

Silvestre Sierro Garcia, 39, was charged on Aug. 14 by Cobb police with DUI, two counts of DUI child endangerment, two counts of seatbelt violation, improper stopping on roadway, and driving with an expired license, all misdemeanors.

Currently, Garcia is being held on a $5,000 bond in the Cobb County jail. But a hold on his release has been placed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to police, Garcia was driving a 1993 Buick Regal at around 12:06 a.m. on Franklin Road in Marietta, when he attempted to avoid a traffic checkpoint near Franklin Court. As officers questioned why he tried to back the car up, they said they smelled a “strong odor” of alcohol on him.

A breath analyzer test and a field sobriety test were then conducted by police.

“The accused did have bloodshot and glassy eyes,” an arrest warrant stated. “He showed positive on the field Alco and six out of six clues on (horizontal gaze nystagmus).”

Toward the end of the police investigation, Garcia reportedly began shaking violently and an ambulance was called to the scene. Blood and urine samples were drawn. Eventually, someone came to pick up his wife and the children who were passengers in the car, according to police.

The two children, ages 4 and 2, had been found by police to be unrestrained in the car’s backseat. It was not certain whether they were Garcia’s children.

Presently, just three states allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses: Washington, Utah and New Mexico. In the past 10 years, a dozen states have repealed laws that allowed people to obtain driver’s licenses without proof of immigration status.

In Georgia, an applicant for a state license or ID card is required to prove lawful presence if he or she is not a U.S. citizen, according to the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

“There are many including students, spouses of those that are transferred to work in the state, and those that may be here on a passport or other immigration and naturalization documents,” said Susan Sports, spokeswoman for the state Department of Driver Services.

“In those cases, the license expiration date is tied to their documentation and (they) are not allowed to keep a valid license or ID card if their documentation is not valid.”

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