(Courtesy photo)

San Francisco officials call Trump proposal to release immigrants in sanctuary cities “scare tactics”

President’s tweet the latest jab at cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities

San Francisco city officials on Friday rejected President Donald Trump’s announcement that he hopes to release detained immigrants into sanctuary cities as “scare tactics.”

Officials in the White House and the Department of Homeland Security initially issued statements denying that they were considering the policy after the Washington Post first reported it on Thursday.

However Trump tweeted Friday that he was giving “strong considerations to the plan.

“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” Trump tweeted. “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy _ so this should make them very happy!”

San Francisco is one of the country’s oldest “sanctuary cities,” with policies limiting police cooperation with immigration authorities dating back to the 1980s. The policies, which have been reaffirmed and strengthened by local officials several times over the years, are intended to enhance community safety by encouraging immigrants to report crimes and cooperate with police without fear of deportation.

Trump has railed against sanctuary city policies before, most notably during the trial of an undocumented immigrant, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, charged with murder in the July 1, 2015 death of Kate Steinle at Pier 14. Garcia Zarate was ultimately acquitted of murder after defense attorneys persuaded a jury the shooting was accidental, but convicted of being a felon in possession of a gun.

“With immigrants being less likely to commit crimes than the U.S. born population, and with sanctuary jurisdictions being safer and more productive than non-sanctuary jurisdictions, the data damns this proposal as a politically motivated stunt that seeks to play politics with peoples’ lives,” District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement Friday. “The fact that such a proposal is being peddled by the leader of the free world is an all-time low for American discourse, and it’s the clearest sign yet that the president fully intends to chart a path to reelection on the back of racist rhetoric and policies intended to divide us.”

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the proposal was evidence that Trump is “morally bankrupt.”

He wants to use people as political pawns. It’s reprehensible. Here are the facts: immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes, sanctuary cities are safer and more productive, and the president’s proposal would waste millions in taxpayer funds,” Herrera said. “A real leader would be working on a bipartisan immigration solution.”

Mayor London Breed said the proposal wasn’t a “real idea.”

“It’s just another scare tactic,” she said.

“Yes, immigration is an important issue and we need legislative reform, but that’s not what this President is talking about,” she said. “We are proud to be a Sanctuary City, and to continue to put forward proposals to support our immigrant communities.”

Breed noted that Trump’s tweets served as a distraction from more serious issues.

“We aren’t talking about a path to citizenship for the over 10 million undocumented immigrants in our country. We aren’t talking about the 3 million Californians who don’t have health insurance. Or the 70,000 Americans who are dying every year from opioid overdoses. These are the types of issues that we should be working to address,” she said.

-Tribune Wire Service contributed to this report

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