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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Immigration Laws Vs. Traffic Regulations

May 11, 2003

Re "Group Asks Anaheim Police to Limit Queries," May 2:

I feel like Alice on the wrong side of the looking glass. I read in The Times that a coalition of churches is applying political pressure to the Anaheim Police Department to have a written policy of not inquiring about immigration status when a driver is stopped for a traffic violation and has no driver's license.

Such a driver would be released at the scene of the traffic stop. The purpose of this policy is to shield violators of the California Vehicle Code from deportation for concurrent violation of federal immigration laws.

The practical effect of such a policy, however, is to immunize the driver from having to comply with licensing, registration and insurance requirements, as well as from the law the driver violated that led to the traffic stop. Without identification or detention, there is no way to enforce any laws against him.

Would someone please tell me what federal laws I, a licensed driver and California citizen, need to violate (with impunity of course) to establish my right to drive and own a car without having a driver's license, registration and liability insurance?

Eleanor Egan

Costa Mesa

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I am truly confused about today's report concerning efforts to have the Anaheim police officially declare that they will not question suspects concerning their immigration status. The activists complain that individuals detained by the police under suspicion of breaking the law who are unable to show valid identification can be jailed and that, in jail, their immigration status is reviewed and many are deported.

Personally, I am pleasantly surprised to find that the INS does occasionally take steps to enforce our immigration laws, but this is not the case for the Orange County congregations, who are apparently concerned about petty crime, but not about federal crime.

Wholly apart from the generally minor offenses for which deported detainees reportedly were detained, they have already broken the law. Despite much pro-illegal-immigration propaganda, entering this country without authorization, and staying here without authorization, is a federal crime.

Remedios Avila argues that her son's offense does not merit deportation, but he is not being deported for his traffic offense.

He is being deported because he has no right to be here -- he is here illegally and, apparently never sought legal residence despite the passage of 11 years. Why should he be permitted to stay, when millions of law-abiding would-be immigrants are waiting their turn to immigrate?

The people lobbying the police argue that they wish to prevent crime, yet they would force the Anaheim police to ignore these federal crimes. I am unable to find the logic in that position.

Margaret Manning

Los Angeles

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