City to publicize its status as sanctuary for illegal immigrants

San Francisco’s “sanctuary” policy for illegal immigrants, which has drawn sharp criticism from conservatives, will be promoted in an advertisement campaign complete with multilanguage brochures and radio and TV public service announcements.

The city-funded outreach campaign is expected to roll out this spring and build on San Francisco’s response to last year’s federal immigration raids, which city officials said scared undocumented immigrants into not accessing city services, reporting crimes or sending children to school.

City officials Wednesday were not able to provide The Examiner with a cost breakdown for the campaign.

“We have worked with the Board of Supervisors, Department of Public Health, labor and immigrant rights groups to create a city government-wide public awareness campaign so that immigrants know The City won’t target them for using city services,” said Nathan Ballard, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s spokesman.

In 1989, the Board of Supervisors adopted legislation enacting a “sanctuary city” policy, which instructs local law enforcement and city departments not to assist federal authorities in enforcement of federal immigration laws. The policy is backed by Newsom and members of the Board of Supervisors.

After last year’s raids, Newsom publicly reaffirmed The City’s sanctuary policy and directed departments to ensure employees are trained in accordance with it.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who is working on the planned outreach campaign to undocumented immigrants, said it will ensure “a lot of deserving people” take advantage of city services. “To me, it’s a logical follow-through.”

The announcements will feature Newsom and other city officials, according to meeting minutes from The City’s Immigrant Rights Commission.

The latest proposal is another action making San Francisco “the most flamboyant city in the country when it comes to working against federal immigration laws,” said Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center of Immigration, a Washington, D.C., think tank favoring tougher enforcement of federal immigration laws.

The City is also moving forward with other new immigrant initiatives.

Last month, an immigrant rights administrator, Shelia Chung Hagen, was hired to increase immigrants’ access to city services and address “negative impacts of actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” according to an advertisement for the job posted online.

Additionally, in August, San Francisco will become the first major city to roll out a program that will provide municipal identification cards to all residents regardless of immigration status.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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