BLOOMINGTON, IL (The Prairie State Wire) – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has confirmed to Prairie State Wire that Jose Rodriguez, who struck and killed Corey Cottrell, 39, of Normal on June 22, is in the United States illegally. Border Patrol agents, in fact, issued the 27-year-old from Honduras an expedited removal order all the way back on April 17, 2013, according to a statement from ICE.
“Then on March 6, 2014, a federal immigration judge ordered him removed in absentia,” the statement said. “He is considered an ICE fugitive.”
Cottrell family friend and spokesperson Cheryl Wendland said the family was shocked at the news.
“It’s much worse than we all expected,” she said. “It means he’s been in Bloomington illegally for at least five years.”
On June 22, Rodriguez was driving east on Macarthur Avenue in Bloomington when he ran a red light near the intersection with Main and struck Corey, according to prosecutors. Corey was driving his motorcycle on his way to see his mom at the Bloomington Church of Christ picnic, Wendland said.
Rodriguez fled the scene. He turned himself in the next day and was charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving a death, a Class 1 felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail. Rodriguez was also charged with driving without a license and disregarding a traffic control device.
He made bail on June 26. His arraignment is July 12, but the family fears he will evade prosecution by fleeing the country. July 12 is also the date of Corey’s funeral services. He leaves behind two daughters, ages 11 and 14.
ICE said that it placed an immigration detainer with McLean County Jail on June 23 in light of Rodriguez’s criminal arrest.
But the detainer is powerless since Illinois is a sanctuary state and Bloomington a sanctuary city, said Don Rosenberg of Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crimes (AVIAC).
“Officials in sanctuary jurisdictions are not permitted to cooperate with ICE regardless of the crime,” said Rosenberg, a Californian whose son was struck and killed in 2010 by a car driven by someone in the country illegally.
“Essentially the detainer process is a notice that when you are done with the guy we want him,” Rosenberg said. “That would mean after a trial and if guilty after he served his time. If not guilty they would still turn him over. Sanctuary jurisdictions just ignore the detainer.”
Rosenberg added that sanctuary policies and laws effectively grant diplomatic immunity status to those in the country illegally, even those who have committed crimes.
“It jeopardizes everyone else,” Rosenberg said
Another AVIAC member, Brian McCann of Illinois, lost his brother, Dennis, 66, in 2011 to someone in the country illegally who struck and killed him as he crossed a street in Chicago. The driver, who had a blood alcohol content of 0.29 at the time, fled to Mexico and was never prosecuted.
“When Cook County Sheriff [Tom] Dart released my brother’s killer he knew was a flight risk,” McCann said. “But he released him anyway because a few months prior Cook County went sanctuary.”