Get mad, Arizona nation:
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the chief suggests...
... the California DMV should start issuing special driver's licenses to illegal immigrants -- perhaps "provisional" or "non-resident" ones.
And L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich agrees.
(As does this bleeding-heart blogger, in fact. Because with special licenses, we could at least discern the bad-driver illegals from the good-driver illegals, and the debate could be about public safety, not border policy.)
Here's how the controversy started: Because immigrants can't get driver's licenses without citizenship papers, their vehicles are more likely to get impounded at DUI checkpoints. Activists called that racist, so the LAPD starting letting unlicensed drivers call their friends to come pick them up before impounding their car.
That enraged Los Angeles' police unions, who complained that such a policy would be too difficult for cops to enforce. And to this day, the Los Angeles Police Protective League points the press to every crash involving an unlicensed driver.
"The reality is that all the things that we've done -- 'we' being the state of California -- over the last 14, 16 years have not reduced the problem one iota, haven't reduced undocumented aliens driving without licenses. So we have to look at what we're doing. When something doesn't work over and over and over again, my view is that you should reexamine it to see if there is another way that makes more sense."
However, reports the Times, Beck also "acknowledged that state officials would have to find ways to address widely held concerns that giving licenses to people who are in the country illegally could make it easier for terrorists to go undetected."
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One more small problem we can think of: Isn't a brown person holding a special license kind of a tip-off to his or her green-card status?
With Secure Communities in place (a federal program under which cops can call up ICE if they think they have an illegal alien on their hands) and the L.A. Sheriff's Department participating so gleefully, a special license might just serve as a big ol' stamp on the forehead.
Eric Rose at the LAPPL says the police union hasn't taken an official stance on Beck's suggestion yet. Indeed, it'll be a bit harder to argue against this one without looking like a regular Sheriff Joe.