A resolution requiring Mayor Gavin Newsom to redirect SFPD law enforcement efforts
away from criminalizing law-abiding immigrants, was passed yesterday
during a meeting of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee.
File photo by Luke Thomas
By Luke Thomas
March 26, 2009
A resolution that “demands” San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom “redirect law enforcement efforts away from criminalizing the immigrant community” and to uphold constitutional due process laws, passed overwhelmingly yesterday during a meeting of the Democratic County Central Committee.
The resolution, drafted by Debra Walker and co-signed by DCCC chair Aaron Peskin, Supervisor David Campos, Robert Haaland, Rafael Mandelman, Supervisor Chris Daly, Joe Julian, Michael Goldstein, Hene Kelly and Michael Bornstein, passed 20-1. Five members abstained including Scott Wiener and a proxy for Senator Dianne Feinstein.
The lone dissenting vote was cast by August Longo via proxy though several members explained that due to a recent health condition, Longo may not have fully understood what he was voting for.
An amendment to Walker’s resolution authored by Scott Wiener that would have removed mayoral responsibility from redirecting local law enforcement away from racial profiling, and harassment of undocumented immigrants, failed on a 19-5 vote. Four members abstained.
“We have a policy being forwarded through the police force” by the mayor’s office, “which is inconsistent with the Sanctuary City policy,” Walker said, adding that she invited Newsom to attend the meeting to explain his policy.
Reached for comment about the passage of Walker’s resolution – expected to be addressed during the upcoming California Democratic Party Convention in Sacramento – Newsom spokesperson Nathan Ballard told FCJ: “This mayor believes that this resolution rests on a flawed premise. Our law enforcement officials do not engage in the conduct alleged by this resolution.”
Those members who supported Walker’s resolution collectively agreed that the purpose of San Francisco’s Sanctuary City Ordinance is to protect law-abiding undocumented immigrants from being reported to federal immigration authorities.
The Sanctuary City Ordinance allows for “the reporting of those who engage in criminal activity, but doesn’t allow for reporting of those who don’t,” said District 9 Supervisor David Campos.
“We have a responsibility to elevate the debate and I think that what the Democratic Party says to people, matters,” Campos said. “What happens around the issue of how we treat undocumented youth is affecting other areas of operations in the city, specifically what the police department is doing.”
Campos cited an attitudinal shift in SFPD policing policy following a shooting incident in his district that resulted in increased traffic stops involving ethnic minorities.
“We have a real concern in the Mission where people feel that they are being racially profiled as a way of targeting people who might be undocumented,” Campos said.
Those undocumented immigrants identified during traffic stops are often reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), whether they have committed a crime or not – in direct contravention of the Sanctuary City Ordinance – and are subsequently deported without trial.
Robert Haaland, who represents thousands of unionized immigrants in the Bay Area, blamed the former Bush administration for the persecution of undocumented immigrants.
“After eight years of George Bush and eight years of ICE raids and eight years of immigrants being treated like criminals, it has affected our consciousness and our rhetoric and how we think about immigration policy in San Francisco,” Haaland said.
SFPD officers stand guard over ICE headquarters
during a protest over Bush administration immigration policy, October 2008.
Haaland also blamed the San Francisco Chronicle for “manufacturing a crisis” following the shooting deaths of three family members in the Excelsior by an undocumented immigrant in June 2008. He said the Chronicle reports’ “scapegoated and distorted and played on peoples’ fears around public safety in order to push us to change our policy around immigrant youth.”
“Their efforts, I’m sorry to say, were successful,” Haaland said, adding that he is “ashamed” that undocumented immigrants are now being deported “on the spot without any kind of due process.”
Supervisor Daly echoed Haaland’s comments, saying the San Francisco Chronicle used the Bologna family shooting tragedy to “whip up anti-immigrant hysteria,” adding that when law-abiding undocumented immigrants are deported to their home countries, they often return with no family connections or support for reintegration.
DCCC member Tom Tseih, who supported Walker’s resolution and Wiener’s amendment, offered to amend Walker’s resolution to add the names of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. With Tseih’s acquiescence, the DCCC, instead, decided that a separate resolution would be considered at the next meeting in April.
The DCCC also passed a resolution in support of Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s legislative efforts to legalize marijuana in California.
Debra Walker’s Resolution:
Whereas, San Francisco has had a Sanctuary Ordinance since 1989, standing proud in encouraging diversity, welcoming full participation in all that our country and our city offers and supporting community policing by increasing trust between immigrant residents and law enforcement, and
Whereas, even as President Obama has taken huge steps in closing horrific institutions like Guantanamo– citing severe violations of due process and, even as our prison system is being taken to task for mistreatment of inmates, it is clear that San Francisco is instead choosing to encourage such due process violations and racial profiling by reportedly engaging in stopping, questioning and confiscating valid identification cards and vehicles in sections of town with high immigrant populations and referring youth suspected of being undocumented to federal immigration enforcement at the booking stage, prior to receiving a hearing; and,
Whereas, the United States Constitution clearly delineates that we as a country shall not “deny to ANY person within it’s jurisdiction the EQUAL protection of the law” because the effect of taking the rights from ANY of us steps on the rights of us all,
Therefore let it be resolved that the San Francisco Democratic Party takes a recommitted position in support of our constitution and our city’s sanctuary position for all,
And be it further resolved that we demand that the mayor redirect law enforcement efforts away from criminalizing the immigrant community and restore our pledge to uphold constitutional due process laws and our commitment to constitutional rights to all.
Scott Wiener’s Amendment:
Whereas, San Francisco has long stood as a sanctuary city, standing proud in encouraging diversity, and welcoming full participation in all that our country and our City offers,
Whereas, immigrants in San Francisco have long contributed to the City’s economic and cultural vibrancy,
And whereas, San Francisco’s sanctuary policy should protect immigrants from being separated from their families and communities through deportation, while also protecting public safety by ensuring that persons who commit violent felonies cannot take advantage of the sanctuary policy,
Therefore be it resolved that the San Francisco Democratic Party takes a recommitted position in support of our constitution and our city’s sanctuary position for immigrants,
And be it further resolved that the San Francisco Democratic Party supports continuation of the sanctuary policy without extending the protection of that policy to persons who commit violent felonies.