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Court battle continues in L.A. over illegal alien drivers' privilege

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A top "Inside-the-Beltway" public-interest group, which created a quite a stir earlier this week by exposing a Benghazi memorandum emanating from the Obama White House, filed a brief on Thursday in the California Court of Appeals following the appeal by the Los Angeles, Calif., city government to overturn a state Superior Court decision that Special Order 7 is unlawful. Special Order 7 is a city ordinance that prohibits police officers from impounding vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers.

Judicial Watch, a nonpartisan government watchdog, had brought a lawsuit on behalf of taxpaying Californians and obtained a favorable decision from the Superior Court last year. The court ruled that the Special Order 7 regulation violated both the state's constitution and its Motor Vehicle Code.

“The Appeals Court should uphold the Superior Court’s decision and protect and defend California’s Constitution against LAPD regulation,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.

“Special Order 7 is illegal and dangerous. Unlicensed drivers – whether they are illegal aliens or not – are a menace to public safety. Los Angeles should not put immigration politics above the public safety,” he added.

According to Judicial Watch's announcement on Thursday:

The primary argument raised by the City and Interveners in defense of Special Order No. 7 is that the City’s regulation is only guidance and municipalities must be allowed to provide guidance to their police officers … The lower court agreed that Special Order No. 7 is not mere guidance, “But this Special Order 7 is much more than just guidance. It’s much more than just training. It actually changes. It changes the law. It changes the outcome” … In the words of the lower court, Special Order No. 7 is a “game changer” … No. 7 does not guide officers in the exercise of their discretion; it re-writes the law.

Meanwhile, in its own lawsuit, the Los Angeles Police Department's union, the Police Protective League (PPL), claimed that Special Order 7 could lead to police officers "being held legally liable" if a driver with no driver's license was allowed to keep driving illegally and got involved in an automobile accident.

"LAPD officers were caught in the middle of a legal controversy over whether they must impound vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers as required by the state vehicle code or follow LAPD Special Order No. 7," Tyler Izen, president of the PPL.

"The LAPPL felt strongly that it was unreasonable and unacceptable to place our membership in this position," he said.

According to former police detective and airlines security director, Benny Cardoza, in essence the special order gave illegal aliens a privilege not enjoyed by American citizens.

"If a police officer in L.A. stops a U.S. citizen and tows that person's auto, the officer will have it impounded for a number of offenses such as a DUI or driving without car insurance or other moving violation. That American will have to pay the traffic summons' penalty and pay more than a hundred dollars to retrieve his or her car. But an illegal alien doesn't have to worry about that even if he or she has no driver's license, auto registration or insurance card," noted Cardoza.

"Are these [political] fools trying to make citizenship irrelevant? Or are they trying to create a new protected class of lawbreakers?" he asked.

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