City leaders pledge not to enforce Federal felony
By Aldrich M. Tan
April 7, 2006
Mayor Gavin Newsom and other city officials reinstated San Francisco
as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants Thursday, anticipating
that the United States Senate would pass a bill that would criminalize
over 11 million immigrants this evening.
Newsom vocalized his disapproval of House Resolution 4437 which
would make all undocumented immigrants felons and require all
employers to verify the immigrant statuses of their employees.
In a midday City Hall steps press conference, the mayor said
he signed a resolution that city law enforcement will not arrest
the 39 percent of local undocumented immigrants if they are declared
felons by tonight's decision.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
"San Francisco stands in strong opposition to the rhetoric
coming out of Washington D.C.," he said. "We're not
going to put up with the bigotry and racial profiling."
The bill mandates that illegal immigrants be deported, and makes
it a crime to assist these immigrants.
If HR 4437 becomes law, San Francisco's law enforcement agencies
will not seek to enforce the new criminal classifications related
to immigration status, according to a resolution passed by the
San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
In 1989, a "city of refuge'' ordinance was passed in San
Francisco to prohibit the use of city funds to "enforce the
civil provisions of federal immigration law,'' the supervisors'
In February, Newsom re-affirmed the city's commitment to the
ordinance, calling San Francisco a "sanctuary city.''
Likening the immigration policy debate to the controversy over
same-sex marriage, Newsom promised San Francisco would act defiantly
to oppose national legislation if necessary.
This is the second time that San Francisco declared itself a
sanctuary city for immigrants, Newsom said. The city first established
sanctuary policies in 1989.
"The city's history was founded by immigration," the
mayor continued. "No mayor has the right to run this city
unless they recognize all San Franciscans, both documented and
City assessor Phil Ting said that Congress' actions have been
"For the Statue of Liberty to say 'give us your tired and
hungry' and for our government to turn them away is wrong,"
San Francisco Assesor Phil Ting
City treasurer Jose Cisneros vocalized his support for his "brothers
and sisters in the Latino community" who are also immigrants.
"San Francisco is a city of compassion," he said. "Everyone
has a chance to be successful here, no matter who they are."
San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros
Diana Lau, president of the Immigration Rights Commission, said
she is proud of being a San Franciscan.
"The mayor and the leaders of San Francisco took the lead
today," she said.
"Building borders does not work. Why is the government re-iterating
things that do not work?"
Diana Lau (right), president of the Immigration Rights Commission
Tim Paulson, San Francisco Labor Council leader, said he would
assure that all workers in the community will be treated with
"There is no such thing as an illegal worker," he said.
"There is no such thing as an illegal human being."
Tim Paulson (right), San Francisco Labor Council
Rodis Rodel, a leader of the city's Filipino community, said
that he could go to jail if the national legislation is passed.
"This is the most erroneous bill in the last 79 years,"
he said. "National citizenship discrimination is the biggest
civil rights issue of our time and we need to all take a stand
Anamaria Loya, executive director of La Raza Centro Legal Inc.,
said her friend Julio from Peru could also be arrested if the
"He made a heartbreaking choice of leaving his family so
that he could create a better life for his children in America,"
she said. "Julio's worse fear is that his son will not recognize
him when he comes back to Peru."
Anamaria Loya (right), executive director of La Raza Centro Legal
A Day of Action is scheduled to take place next Monday evening
with the help of students from San Francisco State University,
Loya said. Twenty students came from San Francisco State University
attended today's event with handmade posters protesting for immigration
"The university prides itself for being the most diverse
campus in America," student body president Chris Jackson
A group of students had gone on hunger strike for several weeks,
student Amrah Salamón Johnson, 28, said. She asked Newsom
to waive the penalties that students incurred for their actions.
Amrah Salamón Johnson
It's no surprise that San Francisco has established itself as
a sanctuary city because it has always been a community that has
been tolerant of immigrant communities, said Luna Yasui, Chinese
for Affirmative Action policy director.
Sin Yen Ling, staff attorney for the Asian Law Caucus, said that
the mayor's words were impressive but she hopes that the mayor
will put his words to action if HR 4437 passes.
"I also hope that Newsom will work with other mayors in
Oakland and San Jose, which are also immigrant community hubs,"
Ling said she and many other immigrant rights workers will be
watching the national government's decision over the immigration
"I'll be glued to the internet tonight waiting for the
results," Ling said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Senate reached a consensus over the
immigration bill that would lead to the eventual citizenship of
11 mil. immigrants. According to the Associated Press, immigrants
who have been in the country between two and five years would
return to their home country briefly and return as temporary workers
while immigrants residing for longer than five years would not
be required to return home, but those who have been in the United
States for less than two years would have to return home and take
their places in line with others seeking entry papers.
Bay City News Service staff writer Angela Hokanson contributed
to this report.