Rest In Peace, Matthew Denice

Last night a candlelight vigil was held in Milford, Massachusetts, for Matthew Denice, who was riding his motorcycle last Saturday when he was stuck and killed by an illegal immigrant.

An article in the Worcester Telegram reports:

Nicholas Guaman, 34, of Milford, a native of Ecuador, allegedly was driving drunk when the vehicle he was driving struck and killed Mr. Denice, dragging him a quarter of a mile. Mr. Guaman has been charged with motor vehicle homicide and is being investigated and held on a detainer by federal immigration officials.

Earlier yesterday, outside the county jail in West Boylston where Mr. Guaman is being held on $100,000 cash bail, Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis announced he had signed an application to join the Secure Communities Act program, bypassing Gov. Deval L. Patrick’s reluctance to enroll the state in the federal program.

The police estimated that 2,000 to 2,500 people, not including those in a motorcycle procession attended the vigil. Matthew Denice was a recent graduate of Framingham State University. A week before his death, Matthew Denice had begun working for The Coding Source.

It is truly a shame that this young man is dead. It is time to look closely not only at immigration laws but at drunk driving laws. This was an avoidable tragedy.

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A Death In Massachusetts

Earlier this year, there were town hall meetings in various locations around Massachusetts to discuss the Secure Communities law, which the state had the option of putting into effect. Basically the law was simple–if someone was arrested for a crime, the police would check their immigration status. In early June, I reported that Governor Patrick had decided to opt out of the program.

Today reported a story that can be considered the result of that decision. On Saturday, Milford Massachusetts resident Matthew Denice, 23, was killed when his motorcycle was hit by a truck driven by Nicolas Guaman and dragged a quarter of a mile. The charges against Guarman include vehicular homicide while under the influence, failure to stop for police, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and reckless conduct creating risk to a child.

The article reports:

The arrest of Guaman and reports that he previously faced criminal charges raised concern about why he had not already been reported to immigration authorities, and highlighted the ongoing debate over a federal initiative to identify illegal immigrants.

Milford police arrested Guaman in 2008 on charges of assault and battery on a police officer and at least one public employee and of breaking and entering, according to the police and the Worcester district attorney’s office. The case was continued without a finding for one year. Police said he also faced a few minor traffic charges dating to 2007, but the district attorney’s office could not confirm that information.

Under the Secure Communities program, Mr. Guaman’s status as an illegal alien would have been determined after his first arrest and he might have been deported. Matthew Denice would still be alive. I think it’s time to rethink whether Massachusetts should take part in the Secure Communities program.

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