DENVER– Members of the city council here are considering eliminating a controversial vehicle impound law that has raised financial and constitutional questions. Dan Hayes, the main backer of the law, which passed as a ballot initiative in 2008, told the Colorado Independent that council members opposing the law are merely protecting laws that make Denver a so-called sanctuary city for illegal aliens.
Since its inception, the bill has polarized the community for what many see as a sideways approach to crack down on illegal-aliens. One of the council members opposed to the law and asking for repeal, Doug Linkhart, said it has created a bureaucratic nightmare and that it encourages racial profiling.
The law requires that the vehicles of anyone driving without a license or proof that they posses a valid license would be towed and impounded by the city. Officials now say city lots are brimming with cars putting a burden on city finances.
Hayes wrote in an email that he simply didn’t buy the financial reasoning put forward in the council.
“The council’s reason for this is a provable lie. In the [April 4 Denver] Post article it’s stated that the land acquisition fee has brought in $250,000 so far and only $200,00 is the estimate needed for more impound lots.
“This is about their illegal-alien agenda and allowing illegals to drive virtually without fear of any real consequences.”
Hayes pointed to California cities that are adopting similar towing laws to increase highway safety and to raise revenue.
“Denver council has placed several bond issues before voters over the last couple elections so I don’t think it’s really about money.”
Linkhart said there were three reasons he was pushing for repeal.
“One, it is unconstitutional on several counts; two it is costing us a lot of money that we should be putting into other safety efforts; three is that the voters last November voted 70 percent to 30 percent to reject an updated version of [the initiative]. So we feel like the voters aren’t supporting the concept anymore.”
It’s unconstitutional, for example, to require Denver police to judge whether someone driving in Denver without a license might be an illegal alien. “That puts police in the position of enforcing a federal law and I don’t know how you reasonably suspect someone of being an illegal alien. That could get rather discriminatory.”
Hayes said that position is fueled by “open border” groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, Home Builders Association, ACLU and Colorado Common Cause.
“The safety of citizens is obviously irrelevant [to these groups] and it’s just another example of democracy not working on a local level. We’ll just have to see what voters will do about re-electing them this August.”
Linkhart said the biggest issue for him was that “voters rejected the issue in 2009” when they were asked to relook at it and vote on a stronger version of the initiative.
Councilwoman Jeannie Faatz, who has been speaking with Hayes on KHOW’s talk-radio Peter Boyles show, opposes repeal.
Councilmember Charlie Brown voted with Faatz against advancing the repeal, saying the decision to repeal should be up to the voters.
Hayes said supporters of a similar initiative recently won a court case in Lakewood where groups were attempting to block their initiative from reaching the ballot. The decision may be appealed.