A San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee will hold a public hearing Monday on a contentious local issue with national and international implications–the city’s stance on cooperating with federal immigration authorities over juveniles arrested for felonies.
The three-member Public Safety Committee will consider a proposed ordinance to alter San Francisco’s sanctuary policy.
The policy, enacted in 1989, prohibits city employees from assisting federal immigration authorities, but there are exceptions that include reporting persons booked for felony crimes.
In 2008, the issue got national attention after media reports revealed that San Francisco was not notifying immigration authorities of undocumented juveniles arrested for felonies, including one who as an adult is now accused of a triple murder.
Mayor Gavin Newsom has since reversed the policy. The move was intended to bring the city into compliance with state and federal laws, according to the mayor’s office, but immigrant rights groups have bitterly opposed it.
They say the policy threatens to tear apart immigrant families and endangers public safety because of fears of reporting crime in the community.
The groups also claim the policy is denying youth their basic due process rights.
Supervisor David Campos’ legislation would mandate that youth arrested for felonies receive a hearing before a judge on their case, and only if found to have committed the crime would U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement be notified.
Currently the juvenile probation department refers such youth to ICE when they are booked after their arrest, before any court proceedings.
Newsom opposes Campos’ legislation, and went so far as to authorize a leak to media of a confidential memo from City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office after Campos introduced the legislation in August.
The memo expressed concern that if passed, the ordinance could expose the city to a federal legal challenge and endanger the city’s position in lawsuits already challenging San Francisco’s sanctuary policy.
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris and police Chief George Gascon have also stated their opposition to Campos’ legislation.
Immigrant rights groups have argued the changes would be legally defensible, and so far, eight of 11 supervisors have signed on to Campos’ proposal, enough to override a mayoral veto.
The committee meeting begins at 10 a.m. Monday at City Hall. The hearing on the sanctuary policy ordinance is the last of three items scheduled on the agenda.