Weekend checkpoints set up along Los Angeles intersections were meant to catch those who had had too much to drink. But for years, says the New York Times, advocacy groups complained that the checkpoints unfairly targeted illegal immigrants, who cannot get driver’s licenses. In March, the Los Angeles Police Department decided that it would no longer automatically impound the vehicles of drivers without licenses.
The change was a significant shift in the second-largest U.S. city, home to thousands of illegal immigrants who, like many other residents, see driving as the only viable way to move around a sprawling metropolitan area. It is in marked contrast to debates in other places around the country where local governments are cracking down harder on illegal immigrants living within their borders. The new policy faces a legal battle. Last month, the union representing police officers filed a lawsuit to stop the change, saying that it placed officers at risk and would make the city's roads less safe. “We need to find a way to be compassionate, yes, but also keep the roads safe,” said Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. The California attorney general is expected to issue an opinion in the coming days, and the matter will most likely be settled in court.