Los Angeles County sheriff Lee Baca
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said he supports the idea of allowing illegal immigrants to have driver’s licenses as long as they have been in the United States for a number of years without committing other crimes.
Baca’s comments Thursday come as Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has also expressed support for driver’s license for illegal immigrants.
Baca said such licenses should only be issued after illegal immigrants fill out comprehensive applications, similar to those for citizenship. The sheriff also said the licenses should be up for renewal annually, and be noticeably different than those issued to citizens.
“There’s enough potential for Chief Beck’s idea for it to be explored,” Baca said Thursday.
The sheriff has expressed openness to illegal immigrants being issued driver’s licenses before. In 2002, he supported a proposal to allow the licenses, but to imprint them with a special marker such as the letter “I” for immigrant so police could determine immediately if they were dealing with someone in the country illegally.
At the time, the sheriff was the head of a task force helping then-Gov. Gray Davis craft a plan to allow certain unlawful immigrants to get licenses, a proposal that eventually was scuttled.
Baca emphasized then that many illegal immigrants were already driving without having passed a driver’s test or buying auto insurance.
“At some point in time, we will allow illegal immigrants to have a driver’s license as long as they are trustworthy and non-criminal people,” Baca said at the time.
In an interview Thursday, Baca said he felt the campaign for licenses a decade ago failed because it was not restrictive enough about what types of illegal immigrants it would have applied to.
“You can’t do this en masse and make the average citizen happy,” he said.
I understand these elected officials who want to pander to the heavily Hispanic Los Angeles County, but there is no way other citizens of California will go for this.
KFI’s John and Ken must be ranting – bring on the referendum – if Jerry Brown ever had the guts to sign such a bill.