DES MOINES, Iowa -- As hundreds of people lit up the night sky for Lea Phann Thursday, more light has been shed on the driver behind the wheel that killed the twelve year old after last Thursday's Des Moines crash at Southeast 6th and Bell. "We mourn with the family of this young person who passed away from this accident," said LULAC Midwest Vice President Joe Enriquez Henry.
Senator Chuck Grassley received information from the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that says Fernando Lopez-Aguilar, who entered the states illegally at the age of seven was a part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals known as DACA. Immigration Attorney James Benzoni of Benzoni Law Office said, "That's a program initiated by President Obama back in 2012 that allows a person who qualified to get a work car for two years and they have to renew it every two years.'
Lopez-Aguilar's work card expired three months ago on June 4, 2016 and Benzoni says besides forgetting to renew it, there's only a few reasons it would be revoked. "A criminal offense that's serious and national security."
Before the crash, Lopez-Aguilar was arrested and charged by the Perry Police Department for possession of drug paraphernalia and in October of 2014 cited for driving without a valid license, but even that may not have been enough to revoke his card. "Drug paraphernalia is on the edge but no drivers license, that`s not considered to be a significant crime as far as DACA goes," said Benzoni.
The League of United Latin American citizens Midwest National Vice President Joe Enriquez Henry says the entire DACA program is set to expire soon. "It's going to be up for renewal and the next president will have that opportunity."
With the presidential election looming, many within the Latino community hope this path, which Enriquez Henry believes brings more good, doesn't abrubtly come to an end because of a select few like Lopez-Aguilar. "This is very disheartening because when something like this happens with an immigrant, then our whole community is blamed for this issue. There will be those who will look at this incident as an example to fuel their fears."
According to unitedwedream.org, DACA participants have up until a year after their expiration date to still qualify for a renewal in the program. Lopez-Aguilar's charges for drug paraphernalia are still pending. ICE has put in a request for voluntary transfer.