Who is Heriberto Fuerte-Padilla? Biden CANCELS deportation for drunk-driving illegal who killed teen

Under new homeland security rules, a Mexican immigrant who is accused of killing a 19-year-old while driving drunk will remain in the US


                            Who is Heriberto Fuerte-Padilla? Biden CANCELS deportation for drunk-driving illegal who killed teen
A man looks upon the Rio Grande while waiting at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing on February 23, 2021, in Matamoros, Mexico. (John Moore/Getty Images)

In November 2020, a drunk Heriberto Fuerte-Padilla crashed his car into a vehicle being driven by 19-year-old Adrienne Sophia Exum. He was caught trying to escape and Exum was killed. Despite the serious nature of the crime, and the fact he crossed the border illegally, Fuerte-Padilla will not be deported back to Mexico. He's one of the many immigrants being granted a reprieve by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas' changed rules.

Immigration continues to be a major issue for the US, and one where the Joe Biden administration's lack of serious steps has proven to be its downfall. In October 2021, we revealed that the administration was secretly flying migrant children from the border to facilities in New York and other states. There were also rumors that the administration was spending a whopping $392 per day to house the migrants after Biden rescinded multiple Trump-era policies

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Adding to that, it appears the government has also changed how it conducts deportations. Mayorkas' new rules, which were issued in September 2021 changed the order of priority for deportations. Now, those with "less severe" criminal records won't be deported, meaning Fuerte-Padilla will remain in the US like thousands of others.

U.S. Border Patrol agents take asylum seekers into custody as seen from a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter near the U.S.-Mexico Border on March 23, 2021, in McAllen, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Who is Heriberto Fuerte-Padilla?

As he crossed the border illegally, little is known about the Mexican national beyond the incident for which he was arrested. In November 2020, Fuerte-Padilla was driving under the influence of alcohol in north Houston when he hit Exum's Mazda. Since Exum was not wearing a seatbelt, she sustained a severe head injury and died at the scene. Fuerte-Padilla tried to flee the scene but was caught by cops a short while later and charged with DUI and failing to render aid.

The case is still pending in court, but earlier the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asked for Fuerte-Padilla to be deported after he had been punished, a stance on which it has now done a u-turn. Under the new rules, offenses like DUI, drug possession, and domestic assault will no longer qualify for "priority lifts" or deportation. Instead, Mayorkas wants to focus on those charged with more serious offenses that pose national security or public safety risk or are a recent border jumper. 

"The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen, therefore, should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them. We will use our discretion and focus our enforcement resources in a more targeted way. Justice and our country's well-being require it," Mayorkas reportedly told immigration officials. His decision is not without controversy. The Texas and Louisiana attorney generals have already challenged the ruling in court, with Arizona, Montana, and Ohio also challenging the rules in a separate case.

The Texas and Louisiana case is scheduled to be heard in late February, while the other one is scheduled for mid-February. If the federal government loses even one, it would prove to be a massive setback for a rule change that many argue should not exist at all. Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies told The Washington Times, "Here we have a law enforcement agency handing ICE a criminal alien on a silver platter and ICE saying no thank you, and then the law enforcement agency saying really? And ICE saying no, we really don’t want to take this person."

Like Fuerte-Padilla, states have named numerous other immigrants whose criminal records would normally mean deportation, but are now getting a reprieve. With the 2022 mid-terms around the corner, it could prove to be the Democrats' undoing. 

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