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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Board of Supervisors Vote To Give Undocumented Kids Their Day In Court

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 4:49 PM

I'll take credit for that....
  • I'll take credit for that....

The Board of Supervisors made a statement today against Mayor Gavin Newsom's 2008 decision to report undocumented juveniles accused of felonies to immigration authorities. Supervisors Carmen Chu and Sean Elsbernd cast the only votes against David Campos' resolution that would push back the reporting of  undocumented juveniles to immigration until after they are convicted of a felony, not when they are merely charged with one. Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who has also weighed in also against Campos' measure, was at a funeral and did not attend.

The board will vote again on the measure at next week's meeting. If it passes once more (and absent flying pigs, we can't imagine it won't), the mayor has 10 days to veto the legislation (which, with a gubernatorial run in the works, we can't imagine he won't). The board will then have 30 days to override the veto -- and, yes, the required eight supes have all signed on. Sorry Gavin -- it's gonna happen, whether you like it or not. 

After the vote, immigrant activists and a small smattering of families barreled into the hallway and started a chant of "Si se pudo!" or "Yes, we did!" Campos left the chambers to address the many news cameras, asking "If we can't stand up for rights in San Francisco, where can we?"

Chu voted against the measure after "many sleepless nights about

this issue," since she hails from an immigrant community. But Chu said

she thought the legislation would allow the possibility of alleged

criminals being let out of custody awaiting court dates they may never

show up for. Campos responded that violent offenders and flight-risks

would not be cavalierly released from custody by a judge.

Keeping with the family story motif, Supervisor Bevan Dufty talked about his mother, who fled

German-annexed Czechoslovakia during World War II. He said he accompanied her

to register as an "alien" each year at the post office in his

childhood. He also mentioned a case at Mission High School in which a

boy brought a toy gun to school and the administrators followed

district policy to call the police. The student was then referred to

immigration authorities.

Campos hit all the rhetorical points

he's espoused in the press lately after the mayor's press office

released a memo saying the city was likely to be sued if the

legislation were to go into effect. Campos says that San Francisco has

willingly faced legal challenges on other issues when the city felt it

was "on the right side of history."  

After the meeting, one

mother who only wanted to be identified as Maria said she was happy

that kids will not be subjected to the same process her twenty-something

son was. He's a restaurant cook who, she says, was arrested for wearing blue

sneakers, a known Sureno gang color. She said the charges against him

were dropped, yet he was reported to ICE and is now in deportation


"Many families are suffering from this," she said,

referring to the 160 kids who have been referred to immigration

authorities since the change of policy last year. '[Immigration

authorities] are within their rights to search for criminals...but they

didn't give [my son] the chance to defend himself." 

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Lauren Smiley


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