What — or who — is the law? In San Francisco, hard to say: by policy, we are a sanctuary city, which violates federal law. By policy, city authorities refer undocumented youth to immigration authorities, which violates city law.
Do you follow? Supervisor David Campos does not. The Harvard-educated former illegal immigrant wrote legislation, approved by the Board of Supervisors (who overrode a Mayor Gavin Newsom veto), which made it city law to only refer undocumented youth to immigration authorities if those youth are convicted of a felony.
Newsom hates the law, former Newsom legal advisor Kevin Ryan hates the law, and Chief Juvenile Probation Officer William Sifferman — whose job it is, theoretically, to uphold the law — hates the law, too. Sifferman told Campos on Tuesday that he will not enforce the law and continue to refer undocumented youth to immigration authorities. Campos responded by calling Sifferman out to City Hall, calling for a hearing wherein Sifferman will be asked to explain himself, in public, to the Board of Supervisors.
“It shows this juvenile probation department is not adverse to being in violation of the law,” said Campos, who noted that Sifferman would only meet with him with two attorneys present. “In fact, they seem to be proud of it.”
Whatever your stance on immigration, the situation presents a legal pickle, one that could end up on a final exam at UC-Hastings, and one that Campos was quick to label “unprecedented.”
“California law has made it clear that department heads don’t have the authority to ignore laws duly enacted because they don’t agree with them,” he said.
Exactly how many undocumented youth have been referred to immigration control is unclear; juvenile probation department officials won’t give up the number.
Expect some legal fireworks when this hearing takes place, sometime in March. What are legal fireworks, you ask? Better bring some Damages DVDs just in case.