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Thursday, May 29, 2014

San Francisco Will No Longer Detain Undocumented Immigrants

Posted By on Thu, May 29, 2014 at 2:45 PM

click to enlarge Not a threat to the general public...
  • Not a threat to the general public...

Update: Ross Mirkarimi responds. See bottom. 

San Mateo residents are fashionable. We know that. And, two days ago, the Peninsula county's Sheriff's Department proclaimed it will no longer detain undocumented immigrants who do not pose a criminal threat to the public

Their San Francisco equivalents know that.  

So, today, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi announced "effective immediately" that San Francisco will now no longer hold undocumented men and women in custody for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

"My long-held belief is that local law enforcement should not be in the civil immigration detainer business," he said via a press release. 

Calls and messages for Mirkarimi have not yet been returned. The rationale behind the timing of his announcement, on the heels of San Mateo County's move, is uncertain. 

While San Francisco's pride in declaring itself a "Sanctuary City" is a favorite matter of conversation for Internet troglodytes, it warrants mentioning that such a policy is overwhelmingly popular among law-enforcement agencies, even in the reddest of red states

The rationale is simple: Immigrants worried about being deported will be reticent to report crimes. 

"Public safety is not advanced and could be hindered when immigrant communities fear the repercussions of cooperating with law enforcement," reads Mirkarimi's release. 

More when we know more. 

Update, 5:35 p.m.: Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi says that his announcement, coming one week after Alameda County stopped detaining undocumented immigrants and two days after San Mateo did the same, is not a case of sheriff-see, sheriff-do. 

"No," he says. "Not at all." 

Rather, he says this is the culmination of more than a year's worth of efforts including "last year seeking a no-ICE detention policy through Board of Supervisors legislation." 

"You're gonna see a wildfire of other county sheriff's departments issue a No-ICE detainer holds [policy] or severely limit them," he predicts. "It looks like California is going to become a no-ICE detainer state."

As for other Bay Area counties -- and San Diego -- making this move slightly prior to San Francisco, Mirkarimi said "It's really rewarding to see all these counties, some more conservative, some more liberal, arriving at a similar place." 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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