Former District 9 Supervisor David Campos speaks at a rally for immigrant's rights at City Hall on December 6, 2016. (Dan Chambers/Special to S.F. Examiner)

SF sanctuary city funding for public defender ‘dead in the water’

Supervisor David Campos said Tuesday his nearly $7 million proposal for the Public Defender’s Office to defend undocumented immigrants in custody “might as well be dead in the water” after it failed to receive support from the Mayor’s Office.

While Mayor Ed Lee has reaffirmed his promise to keep San Francisco a sanctuary city on numerous occasions since Donald Trump won the presidential election, Campos said additional funding for the Public Defender’s Office to represent the undocumented was a “sticking point” for the Mayor’s Office.

The proposal, which Campos introduced last week, would allocate almost $2.6 million for the Public Defender’s Office next fiscal year to pay for 10 attorneys to work on detainer cases in immigration court. Another $2.3 million would go to immigration law groups in San Francisco.

The proposal also called for an additional $1.9 million for legal representation this year.

“The problem is that we cannot in our view and good conscience agree to drop the public defender because the public defender and the expertise they bring to these cases goes to the heart of what it means to provide legal representation,” Campos said at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

“We are not going to work something out if it means taking out the public defender.”

If Public Defender Jeff Adachi wants additional staff, his office should “follow the budget process and submit a plan for additional services and headcount during the upcoming budget proposal,” said Deirdre Hussey, the mayor’s spokesperson.

Changing direction, Campos called for a special meeting at the board next week where law enforcement, public health and other agencies can discuss their plans to protect undocumented immigrants in San Francisco.

The news comes just hours after many pressured the mayor to put money where his mouth is on the sanctuary city issue. Immigration attorneys, public defenders and others joined Campos on the steps of City Hall to push the mayor to support the entire proposal.

“The mayor and most of the elected officials in San Francisco stood and said they were going to be a sanctuary city,” Campos said. “We have to actively take the steps needed to make that a reality.”

Campos and his supporters also criticized the mayor for supporting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a federal program that provides temporary relief from the threat of deportation for certain undocumented immigrants, while stopping short of providing additional funds for the Public Defender’s Office.

Luis Angel Reyes Savalza, an immigration law attorney in San Francisco, joined Campos Tuesday and said he is a DACA recipient who “will not be a cop out for the mayor.” Many suspect the program, created through an executive order, will be killed on Trump’s first day of office.

“Publically, the mayor has said that he’s standing up to Trump,” Reyes Savalza said at the news conference. “Yet privately in meetings, he has narrowly focused on people like myself receiving DACAs.”

But according to the Mayor’s Office, Lee has been discussing additional funding with immigration law groups for them to provide community outreach, naturalization and citizenship services, and representation during deportation and detainer hearings.

The mayor provides $3.8 million at present to immigration law groups in The City for such services, according to the Mayor’s Office.

S.F. Examiner Staff Writer Joshua Sabatini contributed to this report.

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