Sanctuary law 'futile,' US Attorney says

City Attorney Dennis Herrera sought an assurance from U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello that if city workers adhered to a new law adopted by the Board of Supervisors they would not face federal prosecution. The response was less than reassuring.

The law, which was unsuccessfully vetoed by Mayor Gavin Newsom, changes how illegal immigrant youths arrested on felony charges are reported to federal authorities. Before, they were reported to the feds after being arrested, but the new policy says they should be reported only after being convicted.

Herrera received an official letter from Russoniello on Thursday.

“Of the numerous proposals advancing immigration law reform, none that I am aware of provide for or hint at, for that matter, creating a mechanism whereby illegal aliens who have or are engaged in dangerous criminal misconduct will be entitled to adjustment of their status or any other favorable treatment, which is why shielding them from detection by federal authorities now is not only potentially illegal but probably futile,” Russoniello wrote in the letter.

He wrote that he has “not authority, discretionary or otherwise, to grant amnesty from federal prosecution to anyone who follows the protocol set out in the referenced ordinance.”

In his letter to Russoniello, Herrera wrote: “If the U.S. Attorney's Office does not provide us with an adequate assurance that it will not prosecute City officials or employees who would implement the Amendment, my Office may be compelled to explore with City policymakers other options regarding the implementation and enforcement of the Amendment, including the possibility of filing a declaratory relief action in federal court.”

The sanctuary law officially goes into effect Dec. 10, and actual implementation is scheduled for 60 days from that day.

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