The controversial proposal to alter The City’s sanctuary policy for illegal immigrant youths will receive its first public airing today during a hearing at City Hall.
San Francisco’s sanctuary policy was established in 1989 and is meant to foster an environment in which illegal immigrants feel safe to report crimes, access city services and engage in local government without fear of deportation. After a public back-and-forth between city officials about whether altering the policy to stop reporting some illegal immigrant youths will help or hurt The City, the decision about its future will be made by the Board of Supervisors.
Last year, it was reported that The City was shielding undocumented youths convicted of felonies from deportation.
That revelation prompted Mayor Gavin Newsom to change the policy so that all illegal immigrant youths who are arrested on suspicion of a felony are released to federal authorities.
But legislation introduced by Supervisor David Campos would partially roll back Newsom’s changes. The proposal would not allow local law enforcement to report youth offenders unless they are convicted of the crime or are being charged as an adult.
The legislation has created one of the biggest political fights of the year. Newsom has promised to veto it, even if the supervisors have the eight votes to overturn his veto (eight members of the board continue to support the legislation).
Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard said the mayor opposes the legislation for “three main reasons.” Not only does Newsom disagree with using the sanctuary policy to “shield criminal behavior,” he does not want to put “the entire policy at risk,” since the legislation is likely to result in a legal challenge, Ballard said.
Furthermore, even if the legislation passes it’s most likely unenforceable, he said.
Campos rejects Newsom’s fears that the legislation would jeopardize The City’s sanctuary policy overall. It’s defensible in the courts, he said, noting that Newsom has supported same-sex marriage and health coverage for all, both of which San Francisco is now fighting in court. The threat of legal challenge is no reason to not afford youths “due process,” Campos said.
His legislation comes at a particularly sensitive time for Newsom, who’s put himself in the running to be California’s next governor.
Newsom also held a private meeting with San Francisco’s top officials Wednesday to discuss the legal threats surrounding the sanctuary policy. It does not appear that the meeting prompted any of the supervisors to change their votes on the legislation.
Supervisor David Campos’ plan would change reporting rules for youth offenders.
Source: Examiner staff reports