Cam Sanchez

Paul Wellman

Cam Sanchez

No License to Drive

Racial Targeting Alleged; Immigrant Licenses Approved

Thursday, October 4, 2012
Article Tools
Print friendly
E-mail story
Tip Us Off
iPod friendly
Share Article

Jorge was driving his Ford F-150 truck through the Westside one day in 2009 when he says he was pulled over by a Santa Barbara police officer for something hanging from the rearview mirror. An undocumented immigrant and city resident for nine years, he received a warning for the deodorizer ​— ​a view obstruction ​— ​but his car was towed because he didn’t have a license.

Eight days later, he was driving again, not far away from where he was pulled over the first time, on Dutton Avenue. He was in a different car, and the officer, Carl Kamin again, said his brake lights weren’t working. Jorge disputes this, but his car was towed once more, and he received another citation under Vehicle Code 12500 ​— ​driving without a license.

In a one-year span, from June 1, 2011 through June 1, 2012, Santa Barbara police issued 1,100 unlicensed driver citations. Many who received them, like Jorge, face a dilemma: Jorge works in construction and needs the truck to haul his tools; he can’t take the bus. In fact, a workforce of undocumented immigrants labor in landscaping and housekeeping in Montecito, where the bus doesn’t run.

But there might be some measure of relief on the way for migrants in Jorge’s situation, a number of whom were interviewed by The Santa Barbara Independent over the last few months. On Sunday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that would allow many undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses. Statewide estimates suggest 350,000 people who live across California would be eligible to receive them.

Introduced by Assemblymember Gil Cedillo, AB 2189 allows those immigrants who meet the requirements of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to apply for licenses. Under Deferred Action, certain undocumented immigrants are able to live and work in the U.S. for two years without having to worry about deportation. The program is for those between the ages of 15 and 31 who came to the U.S prior to the age of 16, have been going to school here, and have graduated from high school or been honorably discharged from the U.S. military. They also must not have committed a serious crime.

Assemblymember Das Williams voted in support of Cedillo’s bill. “I believe in treating human beings with dignity and respect, regardless of their immigration status,” Williams said. “If the federal government has allowed some immigrants to remain in the country while they pursue employment opportunities and a path to citizenship, I believe that extending them the privilege of holding a driver’s license is the right thing to do.”

Police Chief Cam Sanchez said he, like many police chiefs around the state, is in support of the law, explaining that it will make the streets safer. Not just anyone is eligible for the licenses, he explained; it must be people who have gone to school, have insurance, and are fingerprinted. “It’s not easy to just show up and get a driver’s license,” Sanchez said.

In recent months, there have been murmurs in the Santa Barbara Latino community that its members are being unfairly targeted by officers, specifically Kamin. Data from the Police Department indicates he has issued three times as many unlicensed-driver citations as the next officer. And a majority of the citations Kamin hands out are for unlicensed driving on the Westside.

But Police Department officials say the high number is a result of Kamin’s work as a motorcycle cop who is exclusively on traffic patrol. “His sole job is traffic safety,” Sanchez explained. Officials said that motorcycle cops issue the majority of the department’s citations, so it’s reasonable that Kamin’s citation count would be higher than others. Sergeant Mike McGrew, in charge of the department’s traffic enforcement, told The Independent a couple of months ago that Kamin works a lot of overtime, specifically on grants that have to do with traffic enforcement, and his citation number is generally higher than other officers across the board.

The next highest number of citations after Kamin’s 158 is 58 issued by Officer Jon Palka, followed by Officer Aaron Tudor with 50. There are four other officers who have given out 40 or more citations in the one-year span. The top eight officers account for 43 percent of the 1,100 total unlicensed-driver citations the department issued in that time.

And while the fact of the matter is that the people ticketed are driving without a license, many of those interviewed by The Independent aren’t upset because they are being ticketed ​— ​they realize they are breaking the law ​— ​but they feel like they are being unfairly targeted because of their race.

“People are tired of being targeted because of the color of their skin.” But Police Chief Sanchez said that is not the case. “We do not target any communities,” he said.

Laura Ronchietto, an advocate who is a boardmember and part of the legal committee of the Santa Barbara chapter of the ACLU, has been keeping tabs on the situation for a while. “These findings demonstrate what Latinos have experienced for years in Santa Barbara,” she said. “People are tired of being targeted because of the color of their skin.” But Police Chief Sanchez said that is not the case. “We do not target any communities,” he said. Sergeant McGrew said he received no complaints of racial profiling by his officers.

Probable cause is needed to pull someone over in the first place, and if it is discovered someone doesn’t have a license, they’ll get a ticket. “If you don’t have a license, you shouldn’t be driving,” Sanchez said, which is why he is in support of the newly signed law. “Let’s move forward,” he said of the new law.

While they don’t have licenses, taking the bus or walking to work isn’t an option for many people. Some are housecleaners, who need to transport vacuums and cleaning equipment from site to site. Others are construction workers or landscapers with large amounts of tools and wheelbarrows and ladders, forcing them to drive. If they have a need, they’re going to drive anyway, Sanchez said, as many are doing what must be done to provide for their families; they might as well be licensed. “I see it as a benefit here,” he said.

Also Sunday, Governor Brown vetoed the Trust Act, which would have forbidden local officials from cooperating with the feds in detaining undocumented immigrants, except when they are suspected of a serious crime. In addition to his vote for the driver’s license bill, Williams also voted for the Trust Act. “I share many of the Governor’s concerns regarding unintended consequences of the bill,” he said in a statement. “But I supported the bill because of its focus on anti-profiling, protection for witnesses and victims of crimes and protection of mothers and their children who face the potential of being split apart for minor offenses.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

What a croc of....

deniseL (anonymous profile)
October 4, 2012 at 5:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A crock pot full I'd say.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 4, 2012 at 5:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Gerry Brown just went up a grade in my estimation for vetoing that nightmare bill called the trust act.

And ILLEGAL ALIENS (not "undocumented immigrants"), should not only NOT be driving here, they should not be breathing here. They need to go back to their country of origin.

If someone wants to determine this statement as racist, knock yourselves out. Every right we give to illegal aliens is a slap in the face to those that immigrate here legally. Just as we call those that come here illegally "undocumented immigrants", we might as well give LEGAL immigrants an equally appropriate name, we can call them "chumps".

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 4, 2012 at 5:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I've always wondered about something, so here goes. Does the U.S recognize a driver's license issued by a foreign country? If these people had any license to hand to the officer, would they accept it?
BTW, I love how everybody thinks these new drivers will run out to purchase insurance. These folks are on the bottom of the ladder and need to put food on the table before they need car insurance.

Carpreader (anonymous profile)
October 4, 2012 at 9:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Was it always that insurance companies ran our lives? Think about it; medical insurance costs, health insurance costs...

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 5, 2012 at 2:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The hypocrisy of our transparently disingenuous police chief is stunning. How is this buffoon allowed to remain in office with this crap?
Last week, there were no less than 22 citations issued within the city limits for driving without a license( VC 12500A). 19 of those citations involved towed/impounded vehicles...and those 19 were all issued to Hispanics.

Carl Kamin parks his overtime butt on the Westside and just waits to see who dares to cruise past. He then "sees" something that he can justify as probable cause for a traffic stop (ranging from a cracked taillight to a crooked license plate to failure to signal a turn w/in 100' of an intersection; major stuff like that), and now he can go through the license/registration drill while he's calling Colson's to come pick up the driver's vehicle.
Gee...I wonder if any of these tow companies send nice holiday gift baskets to those who keep them in business?

Beachgirl77 (anonymous profile)
October 5, 2012 at 10:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hiring any illegal alien is the same as shipping a job overseas. You can tell how serious they are about immigration law when they ignore the areas illegal immigrants congregate.
This country was built by immigrants to be sure, my grandparents included. But they followed the rules. They officially became Americans, and part of the culture.
Many illegal immigrants are indeed salt of the earth type people, hardworking ect. But by breaking the laws they are also impacting our economy in a negative way.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 5, 2012 at 11:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

One would have to ingest a lot of the wrong type of plant to believe that legal immigrants are chumps compared to illegals. Legal immigrants sleep well at night without fear of suddenly being deported, for example.

Would it be better if illegal imigration were reduced or eliminated? In principle, yes! But the transition from here to there has to be done humanely and with attention to tthe economic impacts to, at least, the legal population.

And in the meantime, we're all better off if everyone driving here does so with a license and the basic knowledge that license should imply.

hodgmo (anonymous profile)
October 5, 2012 at 12:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Hiring any illegal alien is the same as shipping a job overseas."@Ken_Volok

This statement is false. Illegal immigrant labor contributes to the U.S.'s GDP. Completely undocumented immigrants (no stolen SSN's) pay local taxes (e.g., sales, gas, property [if renting], etc.). Illegal immigrants with (stolen) SSN's pay local taxes and also pay income tax as well as social security and medicare/medicaid tax. Workers in other countries do not pay taxes here and do not contribute to our GDP.

Kingprawn (anonymous profile)
October 5, 2012 at 1:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@Kingprawn: Then why does the U.S. government need to subsidize their being here? There is the aspect of their use of social services.

I also ask you to think about how you are playing into the argument the Chamber of Commerce makes. I think I know you well enough through previous exchanges to safely say you're a sincere defender of what's right and socially just, which is why I bring this up. While people can crunch numbers (such as the Chamber of Commerce does) and argue about how the exploitation of illegal immigrants is helping our economy, what it really is doing is providing corporate welfare for people at the top who already have much more money than most of us will ever see, while sticking the bill to the taxpayer, and perpetuating the socioeconomic divide.

The same arguments were made to justify slavery, (and again, let me stress, I'm not accusing you of supporting slavery and exploitation so this is *not* a personal attack) and it was all about the people at the top living well by not having to pay their workers adequate wages.

Any objective look at the illegal immigration economy will show that the overall result is bad for working/middle-class people on both sides of the border, and that we survived quite well before this issue became so widespread.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 5, 2012 at 2:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey Bill,

I was responding specifically to Ken's statement, which compared outsourcing to illegal immigrant labor.

My presentation of a factual statement regarding the contribution of illegals to the U.S.'s economy does not suggest that I am pro-illegal immigration. Not even a little bit. I just felt it necessary to point out that illegal immigrants contribute to our economy.

Kingprawn (anonymous profile)
October 5, 2012 at 2:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What Bill said.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 5, 2012 at 2:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm on the fence when it comes to immigration issues. A complex issue for sure.

But I don't think what Kingprawn said contradicts this citation (which references the Pew Center and seems fairly balanced):

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
October 5, 2012 at 3:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

We have so many unemployed citizens of every stripe. People say "well Americans won't pick vegetables', maybe some big ag corps don't want to pay decent wages and provide safe working conditions- thus desperate people pick our food- slave labor really.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 5, 2012 at 4:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Any objective look at the illegal immigration economy will show that the overall result is bad for working/middle-class people on both sides of the border, and that we survived quite well before this issue became so widespread." @BillClausen

Common sense supports your above statement. To prove or disprove, however, you would have to, at the very least, define the terms, "overall", "bad" and "working class".

The point is that feelings aren't facts. Some comments posted here are clearly based on "feelings".

Kingprawn (anonymous profile)
October 5, 2012 at 4:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

First, only 15% of illegal aliens in California work in agriculture.
Second, it's impossible to say whether or not legal Americans would work in agriculture since the wages are not sustainable
Third, the over supply of illegal aliens have precipitously brought down the wages in the construction trades and legal Americans have been severely compromised by the low wages combined with the rotten economy.
Fourth, while I agree with Kingprawn MANY illegal aliens work for cash and send much of that untaxed cash back to the home country so it is very close to shipping jobs overseas with the exception of user taxes and fees that are incurred while living here illegally. And yes, employers that hire illegals should be arrested along with the illegal aliens.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Fun Fact: Most people residing and/or working illegally in the US come from Europe!

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 12:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I remember all the Norwegian nannies in town before 9/11 who'd stay after their visas expired. They were a lot of fun.

But I think most illegal immigrants in the US are from Latin America, no? Figure 2 stats come from Pew Research Center:

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 1:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh ... haha, I get it. Good one KV.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 2 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I wasn't trying to make a joke! The figures I keep hearing say European, Chinese, SE Asian..

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 2:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ah, thought it was a pre-Christopher Columbus joke :)

Here are the numbers from the link I posted (circa 2009, Pew Research):

Mexico 60%
Other Latin America 20%
Asia 11%
Europe & Canada 4%
Africa & Other 4%

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 2:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Wow those are practically upside down from what I've read/heard. But they ARE 2009.. it's my understanding that illegal immigration from points south of the Rio Grande was down due to our economy. And I wonder how many are refugees from the Drug War.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 3:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That's right, net immigration from Mexico is now at zero or below. Multiple reasons have been cited including our poor economy, increased border enforcement, etc.

Interestingly, while illegal immigration from Mexico has dropped sharply, legal immigration has remained steady. NAFTA investor and entrepreneur visas (latter requires $500,000 minimum investment) are actually up:

Instead of "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses", it's now "Give me your bejeweled, your rich, your .01%".

Hyperbole? Sure, but it was fun.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 4:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Fun fact: Smurfs are green.

Did you see how I used the word, "fact" to mean something different than what it usually means?

Kingprawn (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 5:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No but I saw why some people might think you're color blind. :)

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 5:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

EastBeach - Instead of "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses", it's now "Give me your bejeweled, your rich, your .01%".

Hyperbole? Sure, but it was fun.

That's the way it is now. The big reason is to protect the entitlement programs. When we took the "huddled masses", 100 years ago, either we gave them nothing or we gave them 40 acres and a mule and let them try to survive. These were the days before welfare, free healthcare and foodstamps.

Now if we let them in, either they pay their own way or they live on the taxpayer's dime. So we'd pretty much be morons just to let people come here and live off the taxpayer, wouldn't we?

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 5:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ever been driving down the road, minding all the laws, licensed and insured as well... and been run into by an unlicensed, uninsured, illegal immigrant, completely totaling your car and causing major medical expenditures or death of a loved one?

Well, until you have experienced, or at least fully understand, that scenario... you completely miss the reason for this whole thing.

Not only should the vehicle be impounded, the ILLEGAL ALIEN should be deported. No and's/or's/if's/ or but's about it.

All this "feel good" "politically correct" "sensitivity" nonsense has gone so far over the threshold of common sense, it is insane.

The "racist" subterfuge is a complete lie. The fact is, the unlicensed, uninsured, & illegal drivers pose a very real and serious threat to the safety and well being of the rest of us. Just because people that are already illegally in this country are also a majority of that aforementioned group does not somehow make upholding the law and protecting those of us that do abide by the law somehow "racist". That's ridiculous.

cartoonz (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 6:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I clicked on the recent comments link and saw the party going on here so I figured I'd join.

For what it's worth, the Mexican immigrants I've talked to about NAFTA have told me how it's made things from bad to worse.

A valid point has been raised about the fact that the taxpayers have to pay the bill for the social services and how immigrants got by without this aid before. Having said that, I can only wonder if maybe there is so much government interference in our lives that this same interference has forced these immigrants (as well as many people who are born here) onto a grid of dependency. (?) The fact that we need so many social services means we're doing something wrong and we need to ask ourselves what we were doing differently before this became such an issue.

One thing for sure: An ambitious person of any stripe would have a very difficult time trying to run and operate a business in today's climate. I know that we need regulations, but when so many businesses are packing and moving out of California, it makes one wonder, not to mention all the jobs that go with them.

I write this because I want to take this in a different direction from the Us. vs. Them racial polemic.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 6:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The only entities that benefitted from NAFTA were Chase, Citi, and a few other multinational corps.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 6, 2012 at 6:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken - You are a bit misinformed about NAFTA.

NAFTA has benefited consumers. No question about it. Have manufacturing jobs been lost in the USA because of it, no doubt they have. Just as these jobs have been lost to trading with China.

Yes, we could have no free trade and some of these jobs might have survived. Consumers would be paying much more for the products they buy though and the standard of living for those who have kept their jobs would be lower because of decreased purchasing power.

NAFTA is a bit of a mixed bag, but there's not question it has benefited the country as a whole. Bill Clinton was right about that one.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 7, 2012 at 6:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

NAFTA has not benefitted American consumers because it has put American consumers out of work! Thus they can only afford they cheap, poorly made crap that's offered them via NAFTA!
Perhaps if people paid real prices for quality items made in the USA we:
#1) would have more jobs
#2) have less garbage in our landfills
#3) lower energy process and subsequent pollution because less transport is needed.
#4) Our GDP and our own exports would be much higher.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 7, 2012 at 11:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

That's the whole point Ken. People have chosen not to pay the prices for products made in the USA. The consumer feels they have benefited otherwise they wouldn't have bought them, but you don't seem to think they should have the choice.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 7, 2012 at 9:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think consumers should have an educated choice and not just how their purchase impacts their fellow country, and not just it's impact on the ecosystems and lives of other workers- often in slave labor conditions are impacted- but frankly the quality of these cheap goods also sucks and they are often the only items offered consumers because the merchants got them cheap.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 7, 2012 at 11:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Although the pay and working conditions for these workers is often poor, not everything that is made in China is cheap, some very high quality goods are made there.

Sent from my iPhone

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 8, 2012 at 5:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

So we can all agree that the PDs work for the corporations. Locally that means isolating easy target minorities and allowing majorities to do bad deeds and damage in peace. It can be also evidenced by all that city council delegated and expensive 'social service' work the PD is now in charge of. And where else might some motor vehicle code justice be dispensed. Surely the Westside isn't the only place you can find a broken taillight.

As the above article points out there seems disparate attention given to motor vehicle code enforcement over there on the Westside. Maybe it's the only safe place for the PD to conduct this type of activity. It's not that the Westside is the only neighborhood that needs enforcement.

Slow Down Santa Barbaras Upper Eastside!? You might find an undocumented worker, working there, in the Upper Eastside. But if the sting operations took place there you might tick off the end user-abuser of the undocumented laborer. I guess though, that the concentration could be lower over there on the Upper East.

The above isn't to malign the PD. They're doing the job we gave them to do. They deserve the pay and benefits negotiated in good faith. But the PD can't be PALs or friends with everyone. So I guess it is with corporations, bars and restaurant owners (see the council member Rowse constituency) and other assorted chamber members types, car collectors, yacht owners, spurious non-profits and successful self-promoters. Fiestas for all is our motto here after all not Jusitica for all.

DonMcDermott (anonymous profile)
October 8, 2012 at 6:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You are so so funny Don. You malign the police departments but praise the unions.

And the police should target whoever breaks the law, whether it be insider trading, vehicle code regulations or immigration law. The law is the law. The job of the police is to enforce the laws as written. If you don't like the law, change the law, don't just malign law enforcement for doing it's job.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 8, 2012 at 7:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Perhaps it is you I malign. It isn't 'them' but 'us' that is the problem. And for some reason the PD doesn't do sting operations over there on the Upper East or over there on Tallant Road. So I guess they'll just have to catch the illegal miscreants who do the gardening, dishes, construction, general cleanup and housework, all for cheap, in their own lesser represented neighborhoods.

DonMcDermott (anonymous profile)
October 8, 2012 at 12:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Don, doesn't it make sense to focus the attention of law enforcement when and where people break the law. Why do you think the police set up drunk driving checkpoints on Friday nights and not Tuesday mornings? Should the SEC look for insider traders in Compton or Wall St? The police should look for lawbreakers whereever and whenever they break the law. If there's an area of town with more crime and gang activity, then law enforcement should go where the problem is.

Does race have something to with people being pulled over? Hopefully not. But poverty definitely plays a role. The poor are more likely to drive vehicles with equipment violations. In that sense, the poor (and maybe minorities) get pulled over more because of it. I don't consider that to be dicriminatory as long as the law is applied equally to all violators.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 8, 2012 at 1:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

event calendar sponsored by: