Accident shines light on immigration debate
The tragic Valentine's Day death of Tonganoxie resident Amanda Bixby was a focal point of a news conference last week in the nation's capital.
Seventeen congressmen attended the Nov. 6 news conference to tout proposed legislation aimed at ending illegal immigration. The Secure America with Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act is a bipartisan effort introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Eighty-four co-sponsors have signed onto the legislation.
At the news conference, U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., talked about the effect of Amanda's death in a car wreck on her parents, Dennis and Denise Bixby. Ricardo Flores, 21, the driver who struck Amanda's vehicle, was an illegal alien who was charged only with a misdemeanor and still lives in the United States.
Boyda came to Tonganoxie last month and met privately with the Bixbys, who live in Boyda's Second Congressional District.
"The concept of losing a child is so devastating," Boyda said in a telephone interview Thursday. "And this was their only child, yet this was considered a misdemeanor.
"How do you explain that to the parents? How do you begin to explain that?" she said.
Flores pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges failure to yield at a stop sign, speeding and driving without a valid license. In September, a Leavenworth County District judge ordered Flores to pay nearly $230 in court costs. He is not allowed to drive, and if he is caught driving, he must serve six months in jail.
In their meeting, Boyda said the Bixbys expressed their desire "to get the word out that we need to fix our laws."
The SAVE Act, Boyda says, is a start.
The act has three components, Boyda said.
- It would strengthen the nation's borders by adding more border patrol guards and providing more resources for law enforcement.
- It ensures that people working in the United States are citizens, making use of an enhanced "e-verification" program.
- Places more money into the Immigration and Customs Enforcement initiatives.
Boyda said only after "fixing the system" should Congress begin to tackle immigration reform.
"After we do that, then we can have a discussion about things like a guest worker program," she said.
Dennis Bixby said he was glad Boyda was paying attention to illegal immigration.
"I don't agree with everything Nancy Boyda is doing, but I do appreciate her bringing attention to this," he said.