sanctuary.jpgIn true governmental fashion, Sheriff Michael Hennessey is getting the bureaucratic run around as he resumes his attempts to preserve San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy by opting out of the Federal Secure Communities initiative.

The Secure Communities program allows for the ICE’s federal database to receive the fingerprints of anyone booked into jail. Hennessey has tried to get San Francisco out of participating, however attorney general Jerry Brown (the democratic candidate for governor) as well as ICE officials told him we do not have a choice. As of June 8 the program has been implemented in San Francisco.

The sanctuary city policy mandates that only people who are booked in San Francisco on a felony crime, found to have a previous felony or ICE contact in their criminal history are reported.

ICE claims that the new program is only for identifying criminals but many raise concerns about the scope of individuals that could be targeted for deportation. ICE statistics have already shown that the program has led to less serious offenders being deported.

On Thursday ICE released a fact sheet called “Secure Communities: Setting the Record Straight” which said that if a jurisdiction wishes to opt of the program, it must formally notify the state and ICE in writing. The ICE would then set up a meeting and figure out a compromise “which may include adjusting the jurisdiction’s activation date in or removing the jurisdiction from the deployment plan.”

The fact sheet was released as a response to released statistics that said that about 26 percent of people deported through the program were considered non-criminals.

Yesterday, Hennessey wrote another letter to Jerry Brown and Department of Homeland Security officals David Venturella and Marc A. Rapp, requesting to opt out again, given the new information.

He wrote “I was told at that time in a telephone conversation with Mr. Rapp that there was no provision for a local jurisdiction to opt out. The information provided in ‘Secure Communities: Setting the Record Straight’ would suggest that there is now a procedure in place to address such requests.”

Hennessey is joined in opposition by a majority of supervisors, but not Mayor Newsom. Newsom defended Jerry Brown’s decision to not allow San Francisco to opt out.

Although it looks like there many be some hope, spokespeople for both the ICE and the attorney general’s office insisted that their positions haven’t changed.

Virginia Kice, spokesperson for the ICE. pretty much said “no backsies.” She claimed that because Brown has already told the federal government the state will participate, San Francisco must also participate.

As with all matters involving letters to the government, we shall have to wait. Meanwhile, San Francisco continues to track the numbers and figure out the true intentions of the federal program.

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