An illegal immigrant almost killed my family. He was set free to commit more crimes.

We moved on with our lives. The police officers told us the man had no insurance, and was in the United States illegally. Because of this, we assumed he was deported. We harbored no ill-will toward him, and were grateful that nobody had died.

Fast-forward to this month. While doing research to write about the accident, I found out the man had not been deported. For hitting us that Sunday morning, a judge convicted the man of driving under the influence and gave him less than a year of electronic monitoring and two years of probation. At the time of the accident, the man had several assault convictions, and four years after he hit us he was again charged with assault. All these charges were for domestic abuse. On one occasion he caused a woman permanent damage after hitting her, say court records.

As to why he was never deported, a retired police officer I talked to said “illegal immigration was not as big a deal [politically]” in 2004, so there was likely no state or local policy to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of illegal immigrant crimes. I was also informed by a source with knowledge of the situation that sometime during the last decade, the man had received legal protection to live in the United States.