Wading into a divisive, politically charged debate, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck believes California should issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, reports the Los Angeles Times. He is one of the most prominent local figures to support an idea the state legislature has battled over repeatedly in the last 15 years. Beck’s stance will inflame critics already angry over his his efforts to liberalize rules on how officers impound the cars of unlicensed drivers.
Beck does not believe licenses for illegal immigrants should be identical to standard licenses. Saying “it could be a provisional license, it could be a non-resident license,” he acknowledged that state officials would have to find ways to address widely held concerns that giving licenses to people who are in the country illegally could make it easier for terrorists to go undetected. Beck said he expected the number of hit-and-run accidents would decrease if illegal immigrants were licensed, because they would not have to fear being caught without a license at accidents.