Jack Dunphy, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the recent L.A. Press Club event, has an eye-opening column on National Review Online titled No License? No Insurance? ¡No Problemo!
Dunphy reports that California State Senator Gil Cedillo is sponsoring legislation to exempt illegal immigrants — and only illegal immigrants — from state laws that punish unlicensed and uninsured drivers.
Oh — and naturally, the L.A. Times has not breathed a word of this. I had to read it in Dunphy’s column.
Let’s imagine Officer Dunphy is on patrol one night and happens to observe, as he does from time to time, a driver going too fast or otherwise driving so as to make himself a hazard to navigation. Let’s further imagine that Officer Dunphy pulls the offending driver over with the aim of issuing him a citation, the receipt of which will encourage said driver to be more careful in the future, thus enhancing not only his own safety but that of the entire motoring public. Now suppose this driver has not gone to the trouble of obtaining a driver’s license, either in California or anyplace else, and that he also has failed to obtain the liability insurance required under California law. Not only would Officer Dunphy issue the man a citation for the moving violation that precipitated the stop, but also for having no driver’s license and no insurance. And, to make sure this person does not immediately resume driving and flouting the lawfully enacted statutes, Officer Dunphy summons a tow truck and impounds the man’s car for 30 days.
Senator Cedillo’s proposed legislation would exempt illegal immigrants, and only illegal immigrants, from having their cars impounded, and would lower the fines levied against them for failing to purchase car insurance. Cedillo’s reasoning, as best I can summarize it, is that because illegal immigrants are prohibited by law from obtaining driver’s licenses, and therefore cannot purchase insurance, it is unfair to treat them in the same manner as those citizens who, through their own indolence, fail to obtain one or the other or both.
So, in the world envisioned by Senator Cedillo, an American citizen found driving without a license and insurance gets his ticket and loses his car for a month, then gets fined $100-$200 for having no insurance. But the illegal immigrant stopped for the exact same offenses gets a ticket, but drives off with a friendly Buenos dias, amigo from Officer Dunphy, followed by a slap on the wrist from the judge in traffic court.
Simply unbelievable. And yet these outrageous bills have not been mentioned in the L.A. Times all year long. I checked.
But, you might object, isn’t this just fair? If we’re not going to allow them to get driver’s licenses, how can we punish them for failing to have them — or failing to get insurance, which requires a driver’s license?
It sounds like a good argument — until you carry it to its logical conclusion:
How dare we prosecute illegals for theft! After all, we don’t allow them to earn money in this country lawfully! How can we blame them for accepting necessary goods and services, and not paying the money that we won’t allow them to earn? We should amend theft laws to exempt illegals!
How dare we prosecute illegals for possessing guns! (See 18 U.S.C. section 922(g)(5)(A).) After all, they’re not allowed to pass a Brady background check. We should amend the Brady law to exempt illegals from prosecution for gun possession without a Brady background check!
Need I go on?
These are compelling arguments — but don’t repeat them too loudly. I don’t want to give Gil Cedillo any ideas . . .
P.S. If you think Dunphy is kidding or exaggerating, think again. In the extended entry, I provide links to — and relevant text from — the proposed legislation.
Here is the relevant text of SB 591, which would exempt illegal aliens from having their cars impounded. Strikeouts indicate language to be removed; italics indicate language to be added; bold indicates my emphasis:
SECTION 1. Section 14602.6 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:
14602.6. (a) (1) Whenever a peace officer determines that a person was driving a vehicle while his or her driving privilege was suspended or revoked or without ever having been issued a driver’s license, the peace officer may either immediately arrest that person and cause the removal and seizure of that vehicle or, if the vehicle is involved in a traffic collision, cause the removal and seizure of the vehicle, without the necessity of arresting the person in accordance with Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 22650) of Division 11.
(2) (A) A vehicle so impounded shall be impounded for 30 days.
(B) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), a local authority
may, by ordinance, impose a lesser impoundment period where the offense involves a person having never been issued a driver’s license.shall exempt a person from the impound period where the offense involves a person who has never been issued a driver’s license due to an inability to meet the requirement in Section 12801.5 that the applicant’s presence in the United States is authorized under federal law.
And here is the relevant text of SB 590, which would exempt illegal aliens from stiff fines for failing to provide lawful proof of insurance:
16029. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a violation of subdivision (a) of Section 16028 [failure to provide proof of insurance] is an infraction and shall be punished as follows:
(a) (1) Upon a first conviction, by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) and not more than two hundred dollars ($200), plus penalty assessments.
(2) The court may reduce the minimum amount of the fine imposed under paragraph (1) if the court determines that the defendant is unable to comply with subdivision (a) of Section 16028 because the defendant is prohibited from obtaining a driver’s license under Section 12801.5.
. . . .
(e) (1) . . . In no event may the court impose a fine that is less than the minimum specified in subdivision (a) or (b), except as authorized under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) . . .
One standard for you and me. Another more lenient standard for illegal immigrants. The mind boggles.
UPDATE: Rumor has it that Dunphy will once again grace the L.A. Times‘s Sunday Opinion section this weekend, with a piece about William Bratton. I’m looking forward to it . . .