Avalos moves to block new sheriff’s promise to communicate with feds

Supervisor John Avalos introduced Tuesday a change to city law that would further limit how and when the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department can communicate with federal immigration officials about jail inmates.

The proposed change to The City’s Due Process for All ordinance would directly challenge recent calls by the new sheriff to increase communications with federal immigration officials.

According to the language of the change, it would “prohibit law enforcement officials from responding to a federal immigration officer’s request for voluntary notification that a person will be released from local custody, except for adults who have been convicted of a violent felony and held to answer for a violent felony.”

New Sheriff Vicki Hennessy has made it one of her first priorities to reverse the March 13, 2015, internal memo from then-Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi which prevented the department from interacting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement without a court order or warrant, Chief of Staff Eileen Hirst said.

The memo was thrust into the spotlight amid criticisms of Mirkarimi for the release of an undocumented Mexican national from County Jail who then allegedly shot and killed Kathryn Steinle on Pier 14 in July 2015.

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez had been sent to County Jail on a bench warrant after he was released from federal prison. The warrant was from on an old minor drug possession charge, the kind no longer charged under a more liberal prosecutorial outlook.

Lopez-Sanchez stands charged with murder. His trial has yet to be scheduled.

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