For many people there is no party without alcohol, so it is not surprising to note that precisely in , a month that includes Christmas and New Year’s Eve, there is an increase in cases of drunk drivers who end up behind bars, in the hospital, or in the morgue. Sadly, for some this is normal, but the truth is that beyond the danger of a person operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, now there is another reason for immigrants not to drink during the holidays: their immigration applications could be denied.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on that its officers will begin to deny immigration applications for people who have two or more convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol.

This announcement is an extension of a decision by the Attorney General and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) issued on , which left as a precedent that if an immigrant has two or more convictions for driving under the influence of a substance such as alcohol or drugs (DUI), it will be considered a lack of good moral character under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Previously, this policy was only applied in cases when an undocumented person who is married to a U.S. resident or citizen and has children under 21 requests the cancellation of a deportation order after being in the United States for more than 10 years.

announcement extends this rule to other immigration procedures (such as applications for residence or citizenship), which may eventually lead to a person being deported.

USCIS stated that these updates to the good moral character policy are applicable to any case filed or pending as of .

In North Carolina, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of Latino drivers charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DWI ) in the last ten years.

According to court statistics, of the 72,421 charges for this crime that were documented in the state during the fiscal year, at least 12,030 were Latinos. At that time, the Latino population in North Carolina was 600,000. After a decade, in fiscal year , of the 52,940 cases of drunk drivers, 5,388 were Latino, representing a 56 decrease. Despite this decline, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Drunk driving was one of the main reasons for the arrest of Latinos in Charlotte in , according to statistics from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD). This crime was also the main cause for which immigrants were arrested and prosecuted through the 287(g) deportation program in Wake County during .

A report last year from the Traffic Safety Unit of the North Carolina Department of Transportation indicates that between and , liquor consumption was linked to the death of Latino drivers more than any other circumstance or physical condition behind the wheel, across different age groups.

It is not true that alcohol is an essential ingredient for a celebration; the company of your loved ones is. If in the end you decide to drink at a social gathering, get a taxi or Uber, or stay at the house of the friend or relative who invited you to drink. Do not run the risk of being deported and being separated from your family.

Diego Barahona A.

Periodista, editor, asesor, y presentador. De 2016 a 2019 el periodista más galardonado en Estados Unidos por los Premios José Martí. Autor del best seller: ¿Cómo leer a las personas? dbarahona@lanoticia.com

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