Mayor Ed Lee announced Tuesday that he will begin implementing part of the law the Board of Supervisors passed in 2009, shielding illegal immigrant youth booked into juvenile hall from federal immigration authorities - if they have family in the Bay Area.
The board passed this policy two years ago after then-Mayor Gavin Newsom said he would start turning over illegal youth upon being arrested and booked into juvenile hall. Newsom refused to implement the revised policy, which was authored by Supervisor David Campos, despite the fact it had been passed overwhelmingly by the Board of Supervisors in 2009.
The conflict created an ongoing rift in the community and among policymakers who were trying to balance politics with the potential for litigation.
But being the peacemaker he is, Mayor Lee finally decided to implement Campos' law -- just not in its entirety.
Under Lee's new rules, only those undocumented youth who have a family member in the immediate Bay Area and who attend
school will be shielded from ICE. Minors who do not have family here will continue to be reported if they're arrested for a felony
crime. The probation department sent out a memo with the new
policy, which is effective May 9, according to news reports.
"This body enacted that law and that law needs to be respected," Campos
said at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. "It is not up to the executive branch to second
guess the legislative branch."
Lee's move means that
the city will still report youth such as the Honduran drug-dealing teens
who put the national spotlight on San Francisco's policy in 2008. That year,
ICE agents arrested a San Francisco juvenile probation officer at the
Houston airport as he was escorting two teens onto a one-way flight to
The Houston arrest was reported in the Chronicle,
spurring a national backlash against San Francisco's friendly policy toward illegal immigrants. The rage was further compounded when the
news hit that Edwin Ramos, the suspect accused of killing Tony Bologna and his two sons in the Excelsior District, was an
undocumented immigrant who the city had shielded from ICE officials -- twice.
As a result, Newsom reversed the long-standing
policy and decided that any juvenile booked in county jail on felony charged would be automatically reported to immigration authorities. We wrote about the new policy's consequences in the
cover story "Sanctuary Sellout."
Depending on your immigration politics, this is either the city's second sign of support for immigrants in a week or second jab at federal immigration officials. On Friday, news broke that Sheriff Michael Hennessey would no longer hold adult illegal immigrants booked into county jail on minor misdemeanors so that ICE could pick them up and start deportation proceedings.
Hennessey told SF Weekly on Friday that he made this decision on his own, meaning he never consulted with Mayor Lee.
Is this a coincidence?
Follow us on Twitter at @SFWeekly and @TheSnitchSF