San Francisco's Board of Supervisors today mustered enough votes to override Mayor Gavin Newsom's veto of a law
softening the city's treatment of juvenile undocumented immigrants who are arrested. But the mayor's office was quick to dismiss the widely expected vote as a symbolic gesture that would have no effect on city policy.
"This veto override cannot really take effect," Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard said immediately after the vote, which took place at today's full board meeting. Ballard contended that the legislation cannot be enforced because it conflicts with federal immigration law. "The board can't force our law-enforcement officials to break federal law." He added, "We've got to protect our city officials from symbolic gestures like this bill, no matter how well-intentioned it is."
Supervisor David Campos, the bill's chief sponsor, anticipated this response in his remarks before the vote on the ordinance, which passed 8-3 with Supervisors Michela Alioto-Pier, Carmen Chu and Sean Elsbernd voting no. "It is unfortunate that we are at this point," Campos said. "It saddens and pains me to say that what we hear from the mayor is that he is going to ignore the democratic process that's been followed."
The ordinance directs city law-enforcement officials not to report undocumented juveniles to federal immigration authorities unless they have been convicted of a crime. Current city policy calls for them to be reported following their arrests, regardless of the outcome of the charges against them. Campos' legislation initially passed 8-2 by the full board last month.