Reporting Jon Keller
BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a case that has galvanized protest and political backlash: the recent hit-and-run killing of a young man in Milford.
Last month, Matthew Denice was allegedly killed by a drunken Nicolas Guaman, an illegal immigrant who ran a stop sign, struck Denice, and dragged him to his death.
The case has quickly become a flash-point for an emotional debate over an aggressive federal push to deport criminals known as Secure Communities.
This summer, Gov. Patrick lectured skeptical Milford residents on why using Secure Communities to help deport repeat-offender illegal immigrants is a bad idea.
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“What you get on the downside is a whole lot of folks who are worried about being targeted,” said Gov. Patrick, at the time.
Then, last month, Milford lost Denice, a popular 23-year-old man.
“You know, illegal immigration didn’t kill this person, a drunk driver killed this person,” Gov. Patrick said late last month.
After Gov. Patrick mixed condolences with another lecture in his first public comments on the case, Denice’s family had a lecture of their own to deliver about the governor’s manners.
“Please show a little more respect for my son and at least refer to him by his name, Matthew,” said Maureen Maloney, Denice’s mother.
The family was also angered by Gov. Patrick’s refusal to use every law-enforcement tool available.
“This person was an illegal immigrant, and if we had the Secure Communities Act in place, this person may hot have had the opportunity to get drunk that day, to get behind the wheel of a car, to kill my child,” said Maloney.
“Deval Patrick should take a lesson from Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona. And I’m confident that if we had laws in place similar to what they have in Arizona, that Matthew would be here today,” said Michael Denice, Matthew’s brother.
“I don’t want any parent or family to ever have to go through what we have gone through,” said Maloney.
Local politicians from both parties have written to the governor, citing the Denice case as just cause for reversing his resistance to Secure Communities.
On Wednesday, the Denice family is helping organize a demonstration outside Milford Town Hall when town officials meet with visitors from the Ecuadorean consulate to discuss immigration-related issues.