Monday, May 4, 2009

Denver Cops: Illegals can drive illegally, but Vets' cars will be impounded

One of the terrible consequences of uncontrolled illegal immigration has been that, after crossing the border and violating our federal laws, many of these immigrants then begin driving without having acquired a driver’s license. And of course, if they don’t have a valid driver’s license, they also lack proper auto insurance.

In Denver, Colorado, an illegal immigrant by the name of Francis Hernandez was driving recklessly when he caused an automobile crash that killed three US citizens. Hernandez had been arrested 16 times, but—as usual—had not been deported. He had repeatedly obtained automobiles he then drove illegally and recklessly. His callous disregard for American laws eventually resulted in vehicular homicide of three law-abiding citizens, including a three year old boy.

In response to the growing frustration Denverites felt about the problem, citizens passed the voter-initiated “I-100” ballot initiative, aimed primarily at “illegal immigrants” who were driving illegally and putting citizens in danger. The Denver Post, in yet another of its traditionally liberal, pro-immigrant editorials, encouraged voters to “Vote ‘no’” on the initiative. Democrat Mayor John Hickenlooper also has come out in opposition to the initiative.

Their opposition was based upon two main reasons: Denver “city ordinances already give police the right to seize vehicles, including those operated by illegals, under numerous circumstances. Initiative 100 would impose an additional requirement in such cases of showing proof of citizenship and/or legal immigrant status in the United States.” The Post declared that “it is clear that the real aim of Initiative 100 is to address the problem of undocumented immigrants,” spinning the reasoning into a “racial” issue, and obviating the fact that the reason for the initiative was to mitigate the safety risk these drivers pose to citizens.

The second reason: “The inclusion of the words "illegal alien" in the initiative struck many as unfair targeting of one specific group.”

Another article in the Post, by Christopher N. Osher, clarified that the new law would not force impounds, and still left it up to the officer’s discretion. According to Revekka Balancier, spokesperson for Mayor Hickenlooper, the language in the initiative “intended to make such impoundments automatic, ‘but the legal analysis does not support that.’” The language in the bill was quite clear: “the ballot language stated officers "shall" make such impoundments when a car is driven by an unlicensed driver,” with emphasis on cars driven by “illegal immigrants”.

The Post also stated that “federal appeals court already has ruled that vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers can be impounded only if they cannot be driven away by a licensed driver or secured and legally parked. Otherwise, such impoundments violate constitutional protections against unreasonable seizure.”

Fast forward to today. A local airman, Brian Furman, had recently returned to Colorado after a lengthy deployment to Iraq, where he served on the front lines, gathering intelligence about bomb-making factories and terrorist activities. While in Iraq, his Missouri license had expired, a detail he had overlooked when he was deployed because he was trying to stay alive while performing his hazardous duties.

In spite of Furman’s explanation that he had been in Iraq for over a year and could not renew his license during that time, the officer that stopped Furman impounded the vehicle. The city charged Furman a $2500 fine to recover the vehicle (it has since gone up to over $4000 with storage fees).

Furman cannot afford to pay the $4000 fees. What’s more, according to information that I have not yet been able to verify, two judges have dismissed the charge of driving without a license, because Furman possessed a license and insurance and current laws allow a grace period for returning servicemen whose licenses have expired while overseas.

But the city of Denver refuses to waive the impound and storage fees!

In a nutshell, US citizens cannot drive a car without a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance. Illegal immigrants, on the other hand, can be stopped repeatedly and released. And now that the people have spoken in an attempt to curtail this problem, instead of pursuing the illegal immigrants who have violated our laws and drive illegally, they instead take a hard line against US servicemen returning from war.

Did you ever believe that the Democrats supported our troops?

*UPDATE* I have heard it confirmed AGAIN that 1) Furman WAS in fact covered by federal law that gave him a grace period to get the license renewed, and 2) Judges DID in fact dismiss the charges against Furman, and 3) the city refused to return the vehicle and waive the fees!
In other words, as they say in Venezuela: "You're innocent, but you're still our prisoner!"

I urge Denver residents to demand that Furman's car be returned, the fees waived, and the city should apologize to the man.
Next, they need to edit the law so that no US citizen who has a license--even if it's expired within 60 days, as long as they have insurance on the vehicle--should have their car impounded. That was NOT the intent of the law.

*UPDATE 2* This morning on the Peter Boyles radio program it was revealed that certain city employees (the Safety Supervisor, I think was his title) had spread false rumors about Furman, saying that the military police had come to pick up the kid and other airmen in the car with him, insinuating that they were in trouble on base. Boyles confronted the city employee on the air and trapped him in his lie. It was GREAT radio.
Following that episode, Mayor Hickenlooper came on the radio and cleared everything up. The car will be released to Airman Furman. There is only a $400 fine that has to be paid. Boyles challenged the mayor to help pay it for the airman: Boyles will pay $200, and Hickenlooper will pay the other $200.
Kudos to Peter Boyles for his bulldog insistence on this issue, and to the mayor, who finally "manned-up" and ended this ridiculous saga.

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