The LAPD's move to drop 30-day impounds of cars belonging to unlicensed drivers stopped by cops has been controversial to say the least.

The L.A. police union thinks the new policy could put dangerous drivers back on the road: It's suing the department, arguing that the rule contradicts state law.

But immigrants' rights advocates think the department just wrote a check for …

… reviving efforts to let the undocumented get licenses in California.

Even some opponents of the LAPD's impound policy, which Chief Charlie Beck has said is about “fairness and compassion,” admit that giving licenses to illegals would solve the problem. Some of them even support licenses for the undocumented.

License and registration, please.

License and registration, please.

State Assemblyman Gil Cedillo has been the man behind years' worth of efforts to get this done. Licenses for the undocumented were allowed until Gov. Pete Wilson took office in a wave of anti-immigrant fervor.

Post-Wilson, Cedillo wrote bills to give illegals their licenses back.

His argument is that so many of us depend on these newcomers, from the farm workers who put salads on your plate to the guys who cook food in restaurants, that the only solution is to ensure they know the rules of L.A.'s vast, vehicle-required roads.

It's sort of like the abstinence-versus-condoms debate: People are going to do it, so mind as well make it safe.

At one point, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed to sign a version of Cedillo's bill, but he backed off under pressure from fellow Republicans.

Cedillo seems to think that he has an potential ally in Gov. Jerry Brown, who signed the pro-immigrant Dream Act for undocumented college students.

And so none other than the New York Times this week argued that momentum was on Gil's side, thanks to the LAPD.

Daniel Savage, Mr. Cedillo's chief of staff, told the paper:

I'm as optimistic as I ever have been in the 15 years we've been talking about this.

We'll see.

See also:

*Illegal Immigrants Can Now Drive in L.A. Without Fear of Having Cars Taken by Police.

[@dennisjromero / / @LAWeeklyNews]

LA Weekly