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Denver council opposes impoundment ballot measure

The Denver City Council voted 10-1 Monday to oppose a ballot measure aimed at taking cars from illegal immigrants.

Initiative 100 would require police to impound the car of any unlicensed driver who could not prove citizenship.

The inclusion of the words "illegal alien" in the initiative struck many as unfair targeting of one specific group. Opponents say current law already prohibits driving without a license.

"In 2007, there were 20,000 citations for charges related to driving without a license," said Paul Lopez, a council member and co-sponsor of the proclamation against Initiative 100. "To say there is a need for this initiative is untrue and ill-conceived."

Jeanne Faatz, the only council member in favor of the initiative, said safety is the main issue, not illegal immigration. Two council members were absent.

"Unlicensed drivers who get into accidents will be uninsured and are a tremendous safety hazard to our citizens," Faatz said.

"A lot of people believe it's because the enforcement of our laws is more permissive, and we need to have teeth to get unlicensed drivers out of cars," she said.

About 30 activists with We Believe Colorado, a coalition of faith groups, gathered outside the City and County Building before the council meeting to demonstrate against the initiative.

"We are here to announce that together we are family," said the Rev. Janet Forbes of the Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Methodist Church.

"People don't want to go left or right but deeper, and so we're here to shift the thinking and to say 'no' to Initiative 100."

Chad Hagedorn watched the rally from the seat of his bicycle.

"I think that the initiative is designed to attack undocumented immigrants," Hagedorn said. "It is pretty explicit in the writing and makes the law susceptible to racial profiling."

Yet John Brick, spokesperson for the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform, insisted the measure is aimed at all drivers, not just one group. Brick maintained the problem is a lack of enforcement.

"I've heard police say that insurance for illegal aliens is 'get out and run,' and that's not going to help the victims of accidents," Brick said.

porterc@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-5625

What's at stake

Voters will decide on Aug. 12 whether to pass Initiative 100. Here's what it would do:

* The initiative would require police to impound the car of any driver found to be driving without a license.

* The car would be impounded unless the driver could provide "convincing corroborating identification, vehicle registration, or a valid driver's license."

* A driver with a foreign license who cannot prove he or she is in the country legally would have his or her car impounded.



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