CA Cities Suspend Unlicensed Driver Impounds: Unfair Burden on Illegal Immigrants?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
ca cities suspend unlicensed driver impounds unfair burden on illegal immigrants

The LA Times reports two California cities are following LA's lead: they're no longer impounding the cars of unlicensed drivers. Scofflaws apprehended in Bell Gardens and Huntington Park can now reclaim their cars immediately– instead of waiting a month and paying hundreds of dollars in fines and fees. Huntington Park City Attorney Francisco Leal said the impound law imposes an "unfair hardship" on the state's illegal immigrants: "There is no way these people can afford that." Immigrant rights advocate Cynthia Anderson-Barker filed a lawsuit against the state and several cities challenging the 30-day impounds. She underlined Leal's point. "The hardship on these families is just phenomenal. When the car is gone and the family loses their transportation, it pushes them further into poverty." State Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), sponsor of several failed bills to give California's illegal immigrants the right to apply for a driver's license, called for a statewide moratorium on the impounds. Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), countered that ending impounds would send a clear signal that California welcomes illegal immigrants. Imagine that.

[Interview with FAIR Media Director Ira Mehlman below]

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  • Safe as milk Safe as milk on Nov 02, 2007
    glenn126 : Areitu, ...I agree with you fully in your statements, and as mentioned, my great-grandparents, grandfather and wife all followed the same LEGAL paths to the US. fyi, before the 1920's there was no such thing as an illegal immigrant. if you passed the physical at ellis island, you were in.
  • Ryan Knuckles Ryan Knuckles on Nov 02, 2007

    So, by giving them their car back, that is solving the public safety issue? If those IA's that were caught driving faced deportion, the roads would be much safer.

  • Shortthrowsixspeed Shortthrowsixspeed on Nov 02, 2007

    skaz: i don't think it's arrogant to think people are selfish. my comments were directed at human nature generally. people think about themselves first. it's just a fact. call it a survival instinct, or a human frailty, or whatever. even though people know that they should be "good", they are invariably "bad". This is true especially when it's possible for people to justify their transgressions as "no big deal". there's actually a documented phenomenon of people not calling police or helping victims in circumstances when they know others are in positions to do so. they just say, "i don't have to do it, someone else will." that's not social responsibilty, it's selfishness. but getting back to cars. GIVING people licenses does not help anything. making people earn it is great. however, i'm not sure how i feel about giving the tests in languages other than English. shouldn't drivers be able to read basic English sentences. I'm sure the tests could be simplified so that the questions required very minimal faculty with the language. all the traffic signs are in english. law enforcement is going to speak english. maybe i'm wrong. i'd like to hear other perspectives on that . . .

  • Osamegi Osamegi on Nov 27, 2007

    I resent the stereotypes that the majority of Americans have on Mexicans. It seems as though everyone wants to characterize Mexicans as illegals and illegals as Mexicans. There are millions of legal Mexicans in the U.S. and there are millions of illegals that are NOT Mexicans. It seems as though the media and society has blindsighted Americans into believing that Mexican immigrants are here to take advantage of government services and of a tax free life, when in fact, that is not the reality. There are immigrants that do pay taxes, abide by the law and most definitely--do not seek government assistance. I think that it is the people that evade child support or seek umemployement checks that take advantage of the system. They seek cash paying jobs so that they will A-Evade taxes and B-Keep money that belongs to tax payers. And this so called money that never sees the light of day in the US is ridiculous. Mexicans send money back home to support their family--sure. But who is to say that they are not American citizens? Everyone gives money to their families, whether their family is in the US or not. When the media reports these amounts, they don't know who is sending the money or for what. Sending money is a right--and illegals shouldn't be held culpable for societal beliefs. Why do you think that more and more companies are targeting the Hispanic population? Because of their spending power. They have an obvious proven track record of the vast amounts that they spend on goods and services in the US. Not only are they helping the economy by yes--performing jobs that no one wants to do--but by spending their hard-earned cash on American products. It is true that many illegal immigrants get paid under the table, but that is because employers are taking advantage of the necessities of these people. I am more than sure that it is not a lifestyle choice for them to live in the shadows of others, to not have a voice and to be treated inhumanely. Driving isn't a luxury--it's a necessity. Waiting for a bus that never seems to come on a freezing night can almost constitute as cruelty. Illegal immigration is going to be a never ending cycle. It just so happens that at the present moment, it is Mexicans that are simply the target. In the future, it may be another ethnic group...the point is that it is unfair to categorize people because of what we think they are. And if they are illegal, I am more than certain that if they had the choice, or the opportunity, they would legalize their status immediately. But it's not an easy path. Many immigrants are alreaady educated, and even then are forced to immigrate. A good percentage speak English and are hard working people. And these so called "illegals" are also likely to be in the process of legalization. But legalization takes years, almost a lifetime with current laws. So what are they supposed to do? Just because Mexico isn't a communist country, or undergoing war doesn't make them any less deserving of a speedy legalization process. People are starving, their families are starving.... and if a better life is just across the border, I'm sure any father or mother would risk themselves to survive. I'm sure they are not going to sit around and wait for their government to help them or expect a change in economic conditions overnight. The problem is that society likes to categorize people and wants them to fit into stereotype. To them, illegal immigrants=Mexican