April 26, 2002
Mr. Hal Netkin
Post Office Box 3465
Van Nuys, California 91407
Dear Mr. Netkin:
Thank you for contacting me about the proposed legislation that will permit the issuance of driver s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Obviously, this is a very controversial issue with strong opinions on all sides.
The Governor asked me, along with a number of other police chiefs and sheriffs from across the State, to advise him on this issue, as well as other law enforcement-related issues as they relate to undocumented aliens.
In addressing issues related to undocumented aliens in California, we must recognize and, at times, defer to the sheer magnitude and the reality of the situation. There are literally millions of illegal immigrants in California and many, if not most of them, are an intricate part of our State s economy and culture. Many years of the best efforts of legislators and law enforcement at the local, state, and federal level have failed to contain or control illegal immigration.
Quite candidly, at times policy makers are compelled to create strategies solutions that deal with the reality of circumstances, despite what the letter and intent of law otherwise indicates. The issue of illegal immigration, I believe, is among those circumstances. Nothing we do as elected leaders will meaningfblly reduce the tide and impacts of illegal immigrants in California.
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 license. 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. In this context, I can support a very tightly controlled and regulated program that may allow illegal immigrants seeking to be citizens to have a driver s license, as long as they do not have criminal records, pose no public safety threat, and have specific-controlled licenses.
The car insurance industry and an array of other peace officer executives support this legislation, emphasizing that everyone in California will be safer if these immigrants were tested and licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles and purchased the required insurance policies.
Concerning this proposed bill, I have stressed the importance of the State of California conducting background investigations of potential applicants to identify, criminals and terrorists. This background check would be in addition to those already conducted by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice.
My support is contingent on a compromise that requires applicants to be in the process of seeking citizenship or permanent residency; have a taxpayer identification number; have a clean criminal history; and provide a thumb print. Since September 11% we have to be very cautious and cannot afford to be careless. We want to ensure that applicants do not have criminal records.
At the same time, we must address the serious problems of illegal immigrant-related crime, jailing and deportation, which are a significant financial, logistical, and staffing burden on local government and local law enforcement agencies.
The issues related to undocumented aliens poses very difficult challenges for California. While there are no easy solutions, I am committed to working collaboratively to identi& strategies that will help keep California safe. Again, I appreciate your taking the time to write and share your views and priorities on the matter.
LEROY D. BACA