WASHINGTON— Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senators David Vitter and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana today are seeking background information on the driver of a bus that collided with emergency personnel who were responding to another incident on a Louisiana roadway, killing two individuals and injuring scores more. The driver, Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez, is allegedly in the country illegally and had a history of driving without a license. He was driving a bus allegedly full of other foreign nationals when the collision occurred on August 28, which killed a local fire chief Spencer Chauvin and civilian passenger Jermaine Starr.
“Sadly, this is yet another story in a long line of stories where innocent American citizens have been killed or injured by an illegal alien who has complete disregard for the laws of this nation,” the Senators wrote today in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
In their letter, the senators are requesting records related to Rodriguez’ immigration history, including when he entered the United States, whether he applied for immigration benefits, such as deferred deportation, details on any immigration court orders, proceedings or notices and detainer or notification requests. The senators are also seeking details on his criminal history, including prior arrests, charges, dispositions, jurisdictions and explanations for any releases from custody. Specifically, they are asking about any affiliations with criminal gangs and whether Rodriguez would have been considered an enforcement priority prior to the bus incident based on his previous encounters with law enforcement. Further, the senators are seeking details on the company that chartered the bus, how Rodriguez was allowed to operate it without a proper license, and whether immigration authorities are examining the immigration status of the bus’s other passengers. Finally, the senators are asking whether immigration authorities have been in contact with victims or their families regarding the incident.
Full text of the Grassley-Vitter-Cassidy letter to Johnson follows:
August 30, 2016
The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Secretary Johnson:
On August 28, Denis Yasmir Amaya Rodriguez, an illegal alien from Honduras, was driving a charter bus without a license when he allegedly lost control of the bus and crashed into a firetruck that was responding to a previous accident. Two individuals were killed, Jermaine Starr, a back-seat passenger in a car Mr. Rodriguez rear-ended, and Spencer Chauvin, the St. John the Baptist Parish Fire District Chief, and dozens of others were wounded.
Trooper Melissa Matey, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana State Police, indicated that a majority of the passengers on the bus were believed to be foreign nationals, all of whom were reportedly on their way to Baton Rouge to assist with clean up following the recent, devastating floods in the area. At the time of this letter, the immigration status of these individuals remains unclear, as well as how Mr. Rodriguez came to be in command of the bus.
An August 28, 2016 report by the New Orleans Advocate also indicates that Mr. Rodriguez had been pulled over by Jefferson Parish authorities on August 5, and cited for driving without a license. Sadly, this is yet another story in a long line of stories where innocent American citizens have been killed or injured by an illegal alien who has complete disregard for the laws of this nation.
In light of the fact that Mr. Rodriguez is an illegal alien, please provide the following information no later than September 12, 2016:
1. The alien registration number for Rodriguez, his complete alien file (A-file), including any temporary files, working files, or Service Center files, and all documents and items contained in them, all reports or notifications generated by DHS or in its possession about him, whether currently in written or electronic form, including, but not limited to, the Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Executive Summary, criminal history or immigration summaries, detainers or requests for notification, I-213(s), and Notice(s) to Appear or other charging documents created to seek his removal from the United States.
- Please identify each and every date on which Rodriguez was encountered by a law enforcement agency in the United States, to include criminal and civil arrests, the nature of the charge, the jurisdiction where the arrest occurred, the disposition of that charge, the date(s) on which he was released from the custody of that law enforcement agency, and the reason(s) for the release. Please provide the arrest and disposition documentation for each encounter.
3. How and when did Rodriguez enter the United States? Was he ever served with a Notice to Appear? Was it filed with an immigration court? Please explain.
4. Did Rodriguez ever apply for any immigration benefits, including deferred action? If so, was any application approved? Please provide copies of any applications that he may have submitted, whether or not adjudicated.
5. Has Rodriguez been removed previously? If so, when?
6. Has ICE issued a detainer or request for notification to any entity regarding Rodriguez? Please explain.
7. Was Rodriguez a member of, or associated with any criminal gang? Please explain.
8. If Rodriguez had been encountered by DHS enforcement officials prior to his arrest for murder, would he have met the requirements to be considered a priority for removal under the Administration’s Priority Enforcement Program? If so, please provide the exact reason for such consideration. If not, why not?
9. Have the victims, or their immediate family members, been contacted by officials at ICE? Please provide details.
10. Is DHS investigating who or what company chartered the bus and hired Mr. Rodriguez to operate it without a valid commercial driver’s license?
11. Is ICE working to determine the immigration status of the passengers on the bus Mr. Rodriguez was driving?
As you know, the Privacy Act authorizes disclosure of information to Committees of Congress. If you cannot fully respond to each and every request for documents or information set forth above, please identify the specific item requested to which you cannot fully respond and explain why you cannot respond.
Should you have any questions, please contact Kathy Nuebel Kovarik at (202) 224-5225, Kate LaBorde at (202) 228-4740, or Blake Schindler at (202) 224-5824. Thank you for your cooperation.
Charles E. Grassley
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest
Bill Cassidy, M.D.