Saturday, March 24, 2012

Los Angeles now privileging illegals

Disregard for the law is becoming an American epidemic under the Obama regime

The Los Angeles Police Department will soon start ignoring California state law, which requires police to impound the vehicles of unlicensed drivers for 30 days.

The majority of unlicensed motorists in Los Angeles are immigrants who are in the country illegally and have low-income jobs. The LAPD says the state's impound law is unfair because it limits their ability to get to their jobs and imposes a steep fine to get their car back.

As long as drivers can produce some form of I.D., proof of insurance and vehicle registration, they'll be allowed to keep their car. Police Chief Charlie Beck insists that it's simply leveling the playing field.

"It's about fairness. It's about equal application of the law," Beck told a Los Angeles TV station earlier this month.

Opponents of Beck's decision are furious and refer to studies showing unlicensed drivers are among the most dangerous on the road. Indeed, a 2011 AAA study titled "Unlicensed to Kill" finds they are five times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes and more likely to flee the scene of a crime.

The decision has angered Don Rosenberg, a resident of Los Angeles County, who lost his 25-year old son, Drew, in a 2010 accident caused by an unlicensed driver in San Francisco, a city with lax impound policies. The driver, who tried fleeing the scene, had previously been pulled over but was allowed to retrieve his car after a short time, months before the accident.

"It doesn't matter to me who killed my son-- what their nationality was. It was the fact that if the law were followed, he'd be alive today," Rosenberg told Fox News.

Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley wrote Chief Beck, saying his policy would be "invalid" in light of state law, which states a vehicle "shall be impounded." But supporters of Beck's decision say, regardless of the law, he's doing the right thing for illegal immigrants who cannot yet obtain driver's licenses here.

"A low-income person doesn't have the ability to pay the fees after 30 days to get their car back," said Cardinal Roger Mahony, former Archbishop of Los Angeles and an immigration activist. "Basically, we're just creating more punitive problems for them."

The L.A. Police Commission voted in favor of the new policy 4-1 last month. The LAPD says officers will begin implementing it in a matter of weeks. The city attorney has also sided with Beck's decision.

Immigrant advocates say the controversy highlights the need to provide provisional driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.

Don Rosenberg says he'd favor that, as long as the police enforce state law by impounding unlicensed drivers' cars when pulled over. But he believes that the city is pandering to the Latino community and doesn't hold out hope that the policy will change anytime soon.

"It's more important that people who are in the country illegally get to drive than it is that people who are here get to live," he said.


Geert Wilders pushing for tougher Dutch immigration policy

Anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders holds in his hands the fate of the Dutch government and of austerity measures meant to save the country from economic crisis. Immigrant groups fear, however, they could pay the price he demands for his support.
"It is threatening," said Ahmet Azdural, director of Turkish lobby group IOT which was set up to promote minority issues. "In the last 10 years, the climate has really changed for immigrants and people who are different."

Wilders has made very clear he wants the Netherlands to go further in curbing immigration if he's to agree to up to 16 billion euros ($21.10 billion) of budget cuts.

"Wilders is a power player," said Maurice de Hond, who runs a Dutch polling agency: "He can pull the plug on the cabinet."

But opinion polls show no single party would win a majority if an election were held now, making this a less likely option.

Liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte's coalition partner, the Christian Democrats, has plunged in popularity while Wilders' Freedom Party has lost some ground since the 2010 election.

Wilders, in talks with the coalition, has abandoned his normally fluent manner in favour of a reticent discretion. "We want to come to an agreement but not at any price," Wilders told reporters earlier this month.

A member of Wilders' Freedom Party announced this week he would quit the party in a move that would further weaken the coalition's hold on power. Hero Brinkman said he would not let Rutte's government collapse, but stopped short of pledging unconditional support for new budget cuts.

Wilders' price is likely to be an even tougher line on asylum-seekers and immigrants, particularly Muslims. He has previously called for a closed-door policy and opposes letting fellow members of the European Union work in the Netherlands.

A recent proposal by Wilders, inviting members of the public to post their complaints about central and eastern Europeans on a website, has also hurt the Netherlands' image abroad and drawn strong criticism from the European Commission.

"Don't underestimate the way he is pushing around (immigration minister) Gerd Leers. The anti-Polish website is an example of how he limits the government's collaboration in Europe," said Andre Krouwel, political analyst at VU University Amsterdam. "It's symbolic, it impacts public opinion".

Wilders won't spell out his demands to the government, but could push for tougher citizenship criteria, cuts to benefits for immigrants and asylum-seekers, or a ban on new mosques.

"The Netherlands is now known as hardline when it comes to immigration and minorities in society," Azdural told Reuters. "Since Wilders supports the cabinet, all the ministers are careful to nuance their policies because they can feel Wilders breathing down their necks."


The planned cuts are all the more vital given the state of the economy. A think tank warned this week that the Netherlands was in the same fiscal boat as the peripheral euro zone states it has criticised for missing budget targets.

In recession since July, it is among the euro zone's worst performers, and expected to shrink 0.9 percent this year, while triple-A peers Germany, Finland and Luxembourg are seen growing.

Wilders, 48, is playing a game with high stakes. It is not in his interest to end his party's pact of support for the minority government. If he did that, he would lose his influence over the Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition, possibly forcing it to find a new partner or to call early elections.

Since storming onto the political scene in 2004, Wilders has made a significant mark. He has influenced Dutch immigration policy and set the tone of public debate, whether on Muslims and burqas or bailouts and the euro, in what once would have been regarded as politically incorrect language.

His anti-Islam rhetoric, likening the Koran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, has elicited death threats, and for many years he moved between various safe houses, and used disguises such as wigs and glasses when traveling.


In any public gathering, he stands out from the crowd with his instantly recognisable peroxide mane that earned him the moniker "the golden pompadour" in the Wikileaks cables, and his entourage of sniffer dogs and beefy bodyguards.

"We were influential in the past...on healthcare for the elderly, fighting crime in the Netherlands, reducing immigration numbers, asylum numbers. But I don't want to talk about that because indirectly I would talk about my negotiation strategy."

His pact with the minority coalition, signed in September 2010, sets out policies he wants this government to adopt.

Some could soon be implemented. For example, the cabinet recently proposed a law banning face-covering veils worn by some Muslim women, one of his demands, and recently agreed to a law which would ban dual nationality and set stricter conditions for obtaining Dutch citizenship.

Wilders opposes euro zone bailouts and says Greece should leave the euro: "We are paying for the Greeks' beers and ouzo. That has to stop," he told journalists recently.

The fact Wilders is sitting at the same table as the government to discuss cuts means the public increasingly sees him as part of the government, pollster De Hond said.

But he could alienate his supporters if he agrees to the government's proposals unless he wins concessions in return, for example on immigration or on where budget cuts are made.

Wilders has said he wants the government to chop 4 billion euros from the overseas development aid budget of 4.6 billion euros rather than cut any health or unemployment benefits, or address reforms of the labour market or of housing subsidies.

"If Wilders sticks to his programme, the cabinet will fall," said Ronald Plasterk, member of parliament for the opposition Labour Party: "If he concedes on what remains of it, maybe not."


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