This is just too much. Normally I’m pretty ambivalent about illegal immigrants. I have a principaled belief that they shouldn’t be in the country, but this is tempered with pragmatism that if we were to boot them all out our lower-end –and necessary!– labor force would be gutted. Effectively, this puts me in an inert political state: I don’t do, say, or care much about it. However, in the above article, my inertia is overcome by the sheer outrageousness and stupidity of what is going on.
Let’s start with the issue:
Oakland police officers have stopped setting up roadblocks to check whether drivers are under the influence because of a rash of complaints from the Latino community and City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente.
The checkpoints, which allow officers to demand licenses and proof of insurance, are an effective way to get drunken drivers off Oakland’s streets, city leaders agree. But the checks also have ensnared dozens of illegal immigrants who are not licensed to drive yet otherwise obey the law.
The police are engaging in activity that is entirely laudable. They are seeking to prevent drunk drivers from killing other people. As far I can tell from the article they aren’t profiling, they aren’t discriminating, they aren’t purposefully looking to crack down on illegal immigrant drivers. Of course, some would argue that all of that is probably going on, but, for once, just this once, can we give police the benefit of the doubt and assume that there isn’t a substantial amount of suspicious motives?
Now, this guy, De La Fuente, succeeds in getting the police to stop this life-saving activity because it catches too many people who not only illegally entered the country but also are illegally driving by having no license and insurance? It’s as if he’s saying, “Look you gotta stop doing these checkpoints because you’re catching too many lawbreakers!”
And how much contempt does this show to the legal citizens and legal drivers who want as few drunk drivers on the road as possible? This guy thinks that aliens deserve the right to drive without license and without insurance even though every other law-abiding citizens must have those! So, the moral here apparently is if you broke the law coming into the country, you can go ahead and keep breaking the laws.
For legal residents of Oakland, these checkpoints do three wonderful things: reduce the number of drink drivers, reduce the number of unlicensed drivers, and reduce the number of uninsured drivers on the road. This translates to fewer driving fatalities, fewer driving accidents, and fewer accidents where one of the drivers is uninsured. It is only the people who aren’t even suppose to be here who suffer significant negative consequences. And what are those negative consequences? A towed car and paying something a little over $125 to get it back. A quick and dirty cost-benefit analysis says that this is Grade A Stupid.
UPDATE: An IRC buddy just pointed out that the DUI checkpoints have already been re-started with some changes. The last graph is very interesting:
Word credited the checkpoints, funded with state grant money, for helping to reduce the number of fatal accidents in Oakland, down 22 percent this year from 2003. Five of the last six fatal accidents involved unlicensed drivers, he added.
I’m sure those last 6 accidents may not be representative of all the accidents, but it is interesting nonetheless.