HAL NETKIN - COMMUNITY ACTIVIST
P.O. BOX 3465, VAN NUYS, CA 91407
May 8, 2002
Sheriff Lee Baca
L. A. County Sheriff Department
4700 E. Ramona Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Dear Sheriff Baca:
Thank you for your response to my letter of April 9, 2002.
In that letter I provided copies of documents filed with the INS by my wife on behalf of her brother (my brother-in-law), who is an illegal alien. Although my brother-in-law falls into the category of the honest, hard working, immigrant looking for a better life for himself and his family, I did provide you with proof that any illegal alien with sinister motives to harm Americans, could easily fill out the same papers as my brother-in-law did and ultimately qualify for the conditional California driver's license for illegal immigrants, that you are supporting.
You mention in your letter that most illegal immigrants in California are an intricate part of our state's economy and culture. But you make no mention of your own study (Daily News, 04/21/02, President's Budget Will Strain California Cost of Jailing Undocumented Felons Shifts) in which you estimate that 38,748 county inmates (23 percent of the jail population) are illegal aliens who will cost the county an estimated annual jail housing cost of $150 million. As someone who voted for you, I expect you to be more concerned with the minority of illegal immigrants who make up a disproportionate majority of the felons in your jail, than with the "economic advantages" of the presence of "millions of illegal immigrants."
Giving illegal aliens driver's licenses throws in the towel by sending the wrong message to the thousands of "undocumented immigrants" currently driving without a license, that they can change the law simply by breaking the law.
You say that in dealing with reality, there is nothing you as an elected leader can do to "reduce the tide and impacts of illegal immigrants in California." As the Sheriff of Los Angeles County elected to enforce the law, I find your statement somewhat of an oxymoron.
Of COURSE there are measures you can implement that will stem the tide of the flow of illegal immigrants -- like enforcing the law against driving without a license or enforcing the law against using false identification. But even if you choose, for whatever reason, to ignore the enforcement of law for misdemeanor offenses by illegal aliens, you are certainly not going to help matters by legitimizing their illegal status with a California driver's license. In fact, when the news of licenses for illegals spreads via the virtual hotline to their respective countries, it will be yet another incentive for migrants to flood into California. Moreover, licenses for illegals is just one more criminal- friendly gesture by the LASD that will attract more illegal alien criminals like Armando Garcia who killed your deputy, David March.
You say that under the legislation introduced by Assembly Member Gil Cedillo, many illegal immigrants seeking to be citizens would be eligible for a heavily-conditioned driver's licenses. There lies the kicker. Just what proof will you have that illegal aliens who come to California, seek to become citizens? Are you going to have them sign an affidavit, or simply ask them? Have you asked this question of Assemblyman Cedillo?
You say that there are thousands of undocumented immigrants that are currently driving without a license, without ever having taken a driver's test, and who are driving without insurance.
There is no evidence that heretofore unlicensed illegal aliens will be safer drivers once they are licensed and it is foolhardy to believe that the majority of would-be licensed illegal alien drivers are going to run out and buy car insurance (sales of fraudulent "proof of insurance" documents now tops the list of false documents being sold to illegals).
You say, that "in this context," you can support a very tightly controlled and regulated program that may allow illegal immigrants seeking to be citizens to have driver's licenses. Again, what proof will you have that the illegal alien who comes to Los Angeles County seeks to become a citizen?
You say that you stress the importance of the State of California conducting background investigations of potential applicants to identify criminals and terrorists and that the background check would be in addition to those already conducted by FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Without ever having been interviewed by the FBI or the U.S. Department of Justice, can you explain to me just how they would have any background information on the millions of illegal aliens in California? And just how will the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department determine the background of illegal aliens?
You say that as long as illegal immigrants do not have criminal records or pose any public safety threat, that you support providing them with specifically controlled licenses.
How will the backgrounds of hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who have arrived from Mexico a month ago, or a year ago, or even five years ago be determined. Will the state or your department do a "make" on every illegal alien driver's license applicant with the Mexican Consolute?
And of course, since it would be discriminating if Cedillo's license privilege were extended only to Mexicans, you would have to also provide licenses to illegal aliens of any other nationality including illegals from Arab countries or even terrorist countries.
Let me remind you that all of the 19 terrorists who pulled off the 9/11 disaster, had valid drivers licenses from their respective states, and none had any criminal record in the U.S. (other than residing illegally in the U.S., which your department intends to ignore). One of those terrorists was even stopped by a police officer and given a speeding ticket and sent on his way.
I believe your advocacy for driver's licenses for illegal aliens is well intentioned, but it is predicated on the false assumption that just about any illegal alien can somehow get a document from the INS as evidence of their intention to become a citizen.
Assemblyman Cedillo knows full well that in order to become a citizen, one must first become a legal alien resident, after which it takes from three to five years before becoming eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. But since legal alien residents can already legally obtain California driver's licenses, becoming a U.S. citizen is not even a necessity.
I believe that Assemblyman Cedillo has taken advantage of you and other police chiefs and sheriffs who are unfamiliar with immigration law, to push his personal agenda at the expense of public safety (Cedillo's agenda was made clear when he publicly made this rhetorical comment in a television interview: "they were here first, they're here now, they're fully integrated into the economy. I don't think we want them to leave.")
In general, there is no way that someone present in the U.S. illegally can become a legal alien, much less a citizen, unless in the unlikely event, congress issues another amnesty or changes immigration law.
I will put this matter to rest if you and Mr. Cedillo can explain to my satisfaction, how criminal background checks will be made, what the conditions of the license will be, and what documentation the illegal immigrant will have to produce to prove they are in the process of becoming a citizen.
Hal Netkin, Community Activist
CC: Assemblyman Cedillo, Governor Davis, Senator Boxer, Senator Feinstein, Supervisor Antonovich, and Other unnamed recipients.
Letter exchange can be viewed on the web.
ENC: Copy of letter of April 26, 2001, Baca to Netkin.