San Diego

Suspect in Hit-and-Run Crash in San Ysidro Pleads Not Guilty

Constantino Banda had previously been deported 15 times--the most recent time in January of this year

A man, accused of driving drunk and causing a crash that badly injured a 6- year-old boy in San Ysidro pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

Constantino Banda, 38, is facing charges of driving under the influence, driving without a license and felony hit and run.

Banda had previously been deported 15 times--the most recent time in January of this year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

According to police, the 6-year-old boy, Lennox Lake and his family were returning from a trip to Disneyland when Banda collided with their vehicle at Camino De La Plaza and Dairy Mart Road.

Lennox, strapped in a car seat in the backseat of the car, suffered serious injuries in the crash, including a fractured skull and bleeding from his nose and ears.

Police said Banda left the scene, but was taken into custody a short time later by Border Patrol officers. He and his passenger were determined to be in the country illegally.

"I just hope the justice system does what it's supposed to do and things are handled properly," said Benjamin, Lennox's father.

Banda illegally entered the U.S. a number of times for more than 10 years and was deported 15 times, CBP said.

NBC 7 spoke to Jacob Sapochnick, an immigration lawyer, who said although that number of deportations is highly unusual, reentry into the U.S. after being deported is common.

"People know exactly where to cross, when to cross, what time to cross, how to do all that," Sapochnick said.

He told NBC 7, he works with some clients who have been deported half a dozen times and some manage to come back to the U.S. illegally, in less than a week.

"The people being removed from San Ysidro, are not coming back from San Ysidro," Sapochnick added. "They will go and find other loopholes, from the fence or the dessert, Otay or even from Arizona."

Last year, more than 23,000 people were deported from San Diego.

Banda's bail was set at $230,000. He is scheduled to be in court on May 18.

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