Saturday, May 18, 2024

San Francisco Votes to Change When Police Must Report Immigrants

On Tuesday, the San Francisco board of supervisors voted to overturn a policy ordered by Mayor Gavin Newsom that requires the police to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) whenever they arrest a juvenile on felony charges whom they suspect may be undocumented. Since the policy went into effect last summer, over 100 undocumented juveniles have been turned over to ICE.

Mayor Newsom, a Democrat who is running for California Governor, said that the policy is necessary to keep young criminals from taking advantage of the city’s sanctuary policy, which prevents city money from being used for immigration enforcement.

“Sanctuary city was never designed to protect people who commit crimes,” said Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for Mr. Newsom.

Tuesday’s vote to change the policy would make it so referrals to ICE would only be required after juveniles were convicted of crimes, rather than after their arrest. Many immigration advocates believe that innocent juveniles have been deported, families broken up and a fear of contacting the police has been created among immigrants because of the referral upon arrest policy.

“We recognize that there’s a need to do some reporting” of illegal juveniles, said David Campos, the supervisor who sponsored the bill. “But we’re trying to strike a balance.”

Tuesday’s meeting was packed with hundreds of supporters of Campos’ bill. When it passed 8 to 2, with one absentee, cheers of “Yes We Can” in both English and Spanish erupted in the chamber and echoed through City Hall.

Mayor Newsom had promised to veto the bill if it passed, but it appears that there will be enough votes to overturn it if he does.

In 1989 San Francisco began its sanctuary policy that refuses to refer minors in police custody to federal authorities; adults accused of felonies have always been referred. When Mayor Newsom learned that some of these minors had been flown to their home countries using tax dollars rather than being turned over to ICE, he ordered the flights to stop. Mayor Newsom’s policy also came on the heels of a number of embarrassing incidents that were exposed by The San Francisco Chronicle in which juveniles who had committed felonies were not turned over to ICE.

“The supervisors did a foolish thing today by passing this bill that moves one step closer to imperiling the entire sanctuary city ordinance,” Mr. Ballard said.

Campos, who emigrated illegally from Guatemala when he was 14, said that the vote to change Mayor Newsom’s policy was important so that San Francisco does not lose its reputation as a save haven for undocumented citizens.

“We went from being one of the most enlightened cities,” Mr. Campos said, “to be a place many steps backward to where the rest of the country is.”

The New York Times


  1. I am sympathetic to the plight of undocumented latinos, but if you start committing crimes (let alone felonies), it’s time to go home, I support Mayor Newsome, I hope he becomes governor, he has good ideas, too bad the city council does not see eye to eye with him on this issue.