In Mexifornia these days, society is so upside down that a city has to make excuses for protecting the public from dangerous unlicensed drivers who are usually illegal aliens.
A 2008 study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that unlicensed drivers are involved in one in five fatal crashes, but the ACLU is more concerned about the well being of illegal aliens than the safety of citizens and criticized Escondido for the city’s program to protect the public.
Earlier in March, the liberal lawyer group demanded an audit from the Escondido Police Department to see whether the city program of using road checkpoints to remove unlicensed drivers was charging undue fees for impounding vehicles. As an ACLU spokeslawyer remarked, “And we’re concerned that their real interest is profit making and going after immigrants.”
No good deed goes unchallenged when the ACLU is on the job!
San Diego suburb defends vehicle impounds, Associated Press, March 30, 2012
The north San Diego suburb of Escondido on Friday defended itself against criticism that its vehicle impounds unfairly target illegal immigrants, saying they have been a drain on city coffers.
Vehicle tows have cost the city nearly $100,000 over the last three years, the city said in a report two weeks after the American Civil Liberties Union’s San Diego chapter questioned whether Escondido was profiting from fees it levies on drivers.
City Manager Clay Phillips says the report shows Escondido’s fees are appropriate but that they should be reviewed each year. The ACLU said the report was seriously flawed.
Escondido, like many cities, impounds vehicles from drivers who are unlicensed. California and 46 other states deny driver licenses to illegal immigrants, making them more likely to get towed.
Escondido charges drivers $100 to $180 for each tow. California allows towing companies to impound vehicles for up to 30 days, resulting in additional fees that can top $1,000.
The suburb of 144,000 people whose Latino population has surged in the last 30 years has been a hotbed of controversy over illegal immigration. Like Hazleton, Pa., and Farmers Branch, Texas, authorities in Escondido have tackled illegal immigration on their own.
In 2006, the City Council voted to require landlords to check tenants’ immigration status but a federal judge blocked the ordinance and it never took effect. In 2010, Escondido police forged an unusually close alliance with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has four agents at police headquarters to check the immigration status of people who are questioned at checkpoints or elsewhere.
Against that backdrop, police have come under heavy scrutiny for checkpoints designed to determine if drivers are drunk, unlicensed or violating other rules of traffic safety.
The city said it impounded 12,758 vehicles in the last three years. Fees collected from drivers and towing company concessions yielded a surplus last year and deficits the previous two years for an accumulated deficit of $92,593 over the last three years, a sliver of Escondido’s annual operating budget of $73.4 million.
The ACLU raised a number of questions about how the figures were reached, including the lack of detail on how state grants support operations.
“The main takeaway for us is this makes us more concerned, not less, about the possibility of fiscal impropriety in Escondido,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, senior policy advocate for the ACLU in San Diego.
Beginning this year in California, police can no longer impound vehicles at sobriety checkpoints if a driver’s only offense is being unlicensed and a licensed driver can be found to take the car.