San Francisco Supervisor Reaffirms Sanctuary City Status As Vital For Protecting Immigrants

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Supervisor David Campos Tuesday called on San Francisco officials to reaffirm the city’s status as a Sanctuary City despite a recent outcry over a fatal shooting by an undocumented immigrant who was released from custody instead of being turned over to immigration authorities.

Campos introduced a resolution at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting urging San Francisco not to participate in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s Priority Enforcement Program, which asks law enforcement to notify immigration officials about undocumented immigrants in custody before they are released.

Campos argued that the program, like its unpopular predecessor known as the Secure Communities program, damages confidence in local law enforcement among immigrant communities, leads to civil rights violations and runs the risk of separating families or scapegoating immigrants.

The resolution comes in the wake of a national controversy over San Francisco’s Sanctuary City policies caused by the fatal shooting of Pleasanton native Kate Steinle in July. Steinle, who resided in San  Francisco, is thought to have been shot near Pier 14 by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant with prior felony convictions and multiple prior deportations.

Steinle’s family has filed a wrongful death claim against the city, and national figures like Donald Trump have criticized San Francisco authorities for having released Lopez-Sanchez from custody without notifying immigration officials after his drug-related criminal charges were dismissed.

San Francisco has had a Sanctuary City law on the books since 1989 and as recently as 2013 the city passed a Due Process for All ordinance prohibiting law enforcement from detaining individuals on the basis of an immigration detainer after the individual becomes eligible for release from custody.

It is this latter law that Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has cited as justification for his department’s decision to release Lopez-Sanchez, although Mayor Ed Lee has said the ordinance does not prohibit communication with immigration officials on a case-by-case basis.

Despite the controversy, Campos noted that the governing board of the Democratic County Central Committee passed a similar resolution just last week opposing cooperation with the Priority Enforcement Program, and urged the board to follow suit.

Campos also introduced a resolution calling on city law enforcement agencies to develop policies for checking to see whether warrants have expired or if prosecution is likely to go forward before seeking to have people transferred into city custody.

Campos added that he plans to introduce an ordinance next week requiring all law enforcement personnel to keep guns securely locked when they are off-duty. The gun Steinle was shot with had been reported stolen by an off-duty federal agent who had left it in a backpack in a car.

© Copyright 2015 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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