FRESNO, Calif. -- Fresno State student body president Pedro Ramirez, the subject of criticism for admitting he is an illegal immigrant, told student leaders Wednesday he may have to resign if he needs surgery for injuries received in a recent traffic accident.
Meanwhile, the student senate postponed indefinitely a decision to formally review Ramirez after the American Civil Liberties Union called the move an improper attempt to force him out of office.
Ramirez told members of the student senate that he is waiting to hear from his doctor about possible additional surgery on his left eye, said university spokeswoman Shirley Armbruster.
Ramirez, 22, of Tulare, sparked controversy after admitting last fall that he is an illegal immigrant. He also has drawn praise and criticism for lobbying in Washington, D.C., for the DREAM Act. The federal bill would offer a path for young people like Ramirez, who says his parents brought him across the border when he was 3, to become citizens.
Ramirez, who does not have a California driver's license, was injured Jan. 9 while giving a ride to a friend who had been drinking, Fresno Police reports said. Ramirez was driving a pickup that crashed into a tree. Officers said there were signs Ramirez was speeding, but no alcohol was detected on him.
Ramirez was briefly hospitalized with an injury to his left eye, which was covered with a gauze patch Wednesday at the Fresno State student senate meeting.
On Wednesday's student senate agenda were items that requested votes on formal reviews of Ramirez and one of his vice presidents. The senate decided to postpone the votes, student vice president Selena Farnesi said, to give the senate's attorneys time to evaluate a letter from the ACLU that calls into question the process by which the senate would remove Ramirez from office.
In the Jan. 25 letter, ACLU attorney Linda Lye said the student senate's personnel committee already has reviewed anonymous complaints about Ramirez and student vice president of finance Cesar Sanchez. The two received copies of the complaints, but were not told when a hearing was being held and have not received copies of the findings.
According to the student senate's bylaws, Ramirez or Sanchez can be removed from office only for missing three or more senate or executive officer meetings in one semester or if their grades or conduct fall below Fresno State standards, Lye wrote.
Farnesi said it would take attorneys about one week to review the ACLU letter, but that a decision to review Ramirez and Sanchez would be put off indefinitely.
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