The effects, both good and bad, of San Francisco‘s policy of being a “sanctuary city” for undocumented immigrants are emerging, one year to date after it was instated. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
As many as 185 undocumented youths held on felony criminal charges in San Francisco were shielded from deportation between 2005 and last summer, when the controversial policy came to light, according to juvenile probation statistics obtained by The Chronicle.
City officials had previously said they had no way of telling how many youths had benefited from the policy. But a new preliminary report prepared by the Juvenile Probation Department at the request of Supervisor David Campos shows the number is much higher than previously suspected.
The report shows that between Jan. 1, 2005, and Feb. 28 of this year, 252 undocumented youths had cases in the juvenile probation system.
As you might expect, this data is not making some of the mayor’s enemies happy, and his opponents maintain that in its attempt to protect undocumented immigrants, San Francisco is instead harbouring drug dealers and other criminals. The Chronicle reports that 88% of the 180 were from Honduras and 83% were arrested on drug-related offenses, leading some to suspect a link to Honduran drug-related organizations.
Apparently, popular criticism was too much for the city to take, as The Chronicle’s own City Insider blog reports that after this data became public, San Francisco “…changed its policy so that any person arrested on suspicion of committing a felony is handed over to immigration officials.”
Now, some city supervisors are fighting to get the changed policy reverted back to its original form, and board of supervisors is voting next Tuesday to do that via the adoption of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child:
Critics say the new rules are harsh, uncalled for and violate due process. The U.N. resolution, which is also sponsored by Supervisor John Avalos, is pretty specific in its criticism, saying that the board “hereby declares it city policy to provide every youth who has contact with the juvenile justice system his or her right to due process under the law before any city employee initiates communication with federal immigration officials.”
“I believe in due process,” Alioto-Pier said Monday. “This is the United States of America, we’re not in a communist country here…. In this country you are innocent until proven guilty, and for children it is extremely important.”
Pretty sad that my city thought that criticism as a result of a series of newspaper articles was important enough to change such important policy. Let’s hope this gets straightened out, as this is sending a bad message to other cities who may have considered following in San Francisco’s footsteps.