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Cheering Latinos hold a sign thanking California Governor Gray Davis for signing the controversial SB 60 into law, allowing undocumented immigrants to get a California driver's license September 5, 2003 in Los Angeles, California.
No license, no car — that policy, which activists have long complained unfairly punishes illegal immigrants who cannot get driver’s licenses, may be about to change.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Police Department began allowing unlicensed drivers at sobriety checkpoints a free pass from having their car towed and impounded if a licensed driver was available to take it. Since then, Mayor Villaraigosa has been developing a new policy with the LAPD that would expand that change to include traffic stops and reduce the number of 30-day impounds, which can cost hundreds of dollars in fees. The police union says the new policy “puts politics above public safety” and “will result in innocent people being injured and killed,” but activists maintain that the current situation continues to unfairly punish illegal immigrants.
Are these fees unfairly punitive, do they target illegal immigrant drivers, or do they serve a purpose in keeping unlicensed drivers off the road?
Paul Weber, president, Police Protective League
Wendy Braitman, leader with the community group LA Voice and the Jewish congregation IKAR; she's been working alongside community groups and with the LAPD over the past year to change the current impound policy