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Chief Beck favors driver's licenses for illegal immigrants

February 22, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Should California give illegal immigrants driver's licenses? The father of a man killed by an unlicensed driver says yes, and Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck agrees.

Drew Rosenberg, an Agoura High School graduate, was on his way home to Southern California from law school in San Francisco when he was struck and killed by an unlicensed driver.

"They hit him but probably didn't kill him," said the 25-year-old's father, Don Rosenberg. "In an attempt to escape, he accelerated, drove over Drew. When he couldn't go forward because his bike and Drew's body, he stopped and he backed up and he drove over him a second time. Trying to get away, he drove over him a third time."

Since that time, Don Rosenberg has been researching the issue and now thinks all drivers need licenses, including illegal immigrants.

"If you drive without a license, either you've never had a license or it's been suspended or revoked, you are five times more likely to kill somebody," Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg persuaded Beck to change his view.

"Why wouldn't you want to put people through a rigorous testing process? Why wouldn't you want to better identify people who are going to be here?" Beck told the Los Angeles Times.

"When you make things illegal, you cause a lot of other things by chain reactions," Beck said.

Supporters celebrated at an immigrant rights rally in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday night.

"We definitely welcome that, we've been asking that," said Carl Bergquist of Coalition Human Rights Los Angeles. "California used to allow drivers licenses for all people living in California."

Rosenberg says that until the law is changed, if drivers are found without licenses, they should be penalized.

Beck is pushing for a shorter time period for cars to be held after being impounded when taken from unlicensed drivers. Rosenberg strongly opposes that.