Judicial Watch Files Taxpayer Lawsuit against City of LA over Illegal Alien Sanctuary Policies

Last week we started a new fight with the City of Los Angeles, this time over a new policy that prevents police officers from impounding vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers.

On Wednesday we filed a taxpayer lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department, Police Chief Charlie Beck and members of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners over Special Order 7. Under this policy police officers will no longer immediately impound the vehicles of unlicensed drivers for 30 days, as long as they meet certain conditions. 

It's no secret that this policy change was made to specifically accommodate illegal aliens.

The problem is that Special Order 7 is unlawful. And, for this reason, Judicial Watch's lawsuit on behalf of Harold P. Sturgeon, filed May 8, 2012, in the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles, seeks to stop the use of taxpayer funds to implement the new policy:

Plaintiff, a taxpayer and resident of the City of Los Angeles, seeks to enjoin Defendants from expending taxpayer funds or taxpayer-financed resources to implement, enforce, maintain, or otherwise carry out the provisions of Special Order 7, which was issued by the Los Angeles Police Department ("LAPD") on April 10, 2012 and which became effective on April 22, 2012. Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment that Special Order 7 is preempted by Article XI, Section 7 of the California Constitution and California Vehicle Code § 21, and therefore is unlawful and void.

Let's review the policy as it exists. Under the California Vehicle Code, vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers can be impounded for 30 days and, in some circumstances, must be impounded for 30 days.

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, however, under the new policy "vehicles of unlicensed drivers will only be impounded for a day, if that person has insurance, valid identification, has not caused an accident and has not been cited previously for unlicensed driving. An exception may be made in some cases if a licensed driver is immediately available to drive the vehicle away."

As Judicial Watch alleges in its complaint, according to the California Constitution and California Vehicle Code § 21, "a local government has no authority to regulate or control any matter covered by the California Vehicle Code unless such authority is expressly granted by the State of California....Because the provisions of Special Order 7 are not within the purview of any express authorization granted by the State of California Defendants...were without authority to enact Special Order 7...."

While illegal immigration support groups and their government allies - including LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief Beck- support the policy change, they do not have a lot of company. Even the city's own police union doesn't want Special Order 7! In fact, the Los Angeles Police Protection League, as it is known, has also filed a lawsuit challenging the new policy.

And here's another group opposed to the policy change - anyone who has ever been harmed by an unlicensed driver.  The Los Angeles Daily News interviewed one such person, Don Rosenberg, whose son was killed by an unlicensed driver in San Francisco in 2010:  "To me, it is clearly illegal," Rosenberg told the Daily News. "Can you think of one traffic law that when a problem gets worse, they reduce the penalty? I think we should question why this is being done."

We know why this is being done. This is yet another example of the Los Angeles Police Department's unlawful use of taxpayer dollars to further Los Angeles' status as a sanctuary city. LA's politicians are once again putting politics and ideology before the safety of citizens, police officers and the rule of law.

Special Order 7 is illegal and dangerous. Unlicensed drivers - whether unlawfully present aliens or not - are a menace to the public safety. And that's why Judicial Watch will do what it can to stop tax dollars from funding it.

We are persistent in advocating for the rule of law.  We previously filed another taxpayer lawsuit against LAPD over Special Order 40, a sanctuary policy that prohibits police officers from "initiat[ing] police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person," on behalf of a taxpayer.  Despite an obvious conflict with federal law, California state courts refused to let Judicial Watch's taxpayer legal challenge against Special Order 40 proceed to trial.


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