Supes Stand Up for Art and Youth

By AMANDA MARTINEZ

The Board of Supervisors suspended any urge to slack off  Tuesday at the last meeting before a summer recess and tackled the city’s sanctuary policy and the future of the Mexican Museum.

The resolution to recast the year-old policy of turning all undocumented juvenile offenders over to immigration authorities at the time of arrest will be taken up at a public hearing October 5 at the Public Safety Committee’s meeting and a final board vote will take place the following week.

The ten members present voted in favor of a resolution that supports the development of the Mexican Museum Project in the Yerba Buena cultural hub at Fourth and Mission Streets.  The measure also called for Fort Mason Center to renew of the museum’s lease.

The 34-year-old museum is currently facing a September eviction from Fort Mason where it has been located since 1982.

The resolution is not legally binding.

Pat Kilduff, director of marketing at Fort Mason wrote in an email that administrators there still intend to terminate their relationship with the museum in September because it failed to meet the center’s requirement of public programming. The museum has not held an exhibit in three years, but it has been open to researchers.

“Since they do not meet the requirements for residency on campus the lease will not be renewed,” wrote Kilduff. Museum officials said earlier that they have not had the money for on site programing, but the Redevelopment Agency recently awarded the museum $250,000 to hire staff.

Victor Marquez the former chairman of the Mexican Museum explained during public comment that to move the collection could cost up to $500,000.

“It is money that would be better spent on development,” he said.

Also speaking on behalf on the museum was its co chair Nora Wagner who pointed to the success of last summer’s Frida Kahlo exhibit at the SFMOMA and the popular Chicano Now exhibit at the De Young.  The city, she said, will benefit from the museum patrons and tourism.

District 9 Supervisor David Campos also introduced the legislation to re-instate due process for immigrant youth.  The new policy would protect undocumented youth from being handed over to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) until proven guilty of a felony.

Mayor Newsom changed the city’s policy on undocumented youth last year asking booking agents to report immigrant juveniles to ICE as soon as they were charged with a crime.

In a rally earlier in the day announcing the legislation Campos stood surrounded by youth and families from Mission District organizations including HOMEY, Mujeres Unidas, and CARECEN. youth

“Mr. Mayor please come to our side and support what is right for San Francisco,” he said.

“This is a middle ground between never reporting to ICE and reporting before they are found guilty, ”

Mission District community members spoke about the current policy’s harmful consequences. Mission High school chemistry teacher Derrlyn Tom said the policy makes undocumented students afraid of teachers and administrators. She says in her ten years at the school students have always come to her to discuss their immigration issues and concerns.mujeres

In addition she said she feels like she can’t call police in an emergency because they can deport her students.

Angela Chan of the Asian Law Caucus estimates that between 10 and 15 San

Francisco youth are referred to ICE a month and believes that more than 190 have been deported since the policy change took place in July of 2008.

She said it is difficult to monitor the numbers because most waive their right to counsel and are transferred throughout the country before they are deported.

Sheila Chung the Campos staff member who spear- headed the legislation believes that many of the deported youth make their way back to San Francisco but go into hiding, inevitably making themselves cut off from resources or rehabilitation programs.

But Chung is confidant the new policy will go into effect before the end of the year. “ It is already sponsored by nine of the eleven board members,” she said.  It only needs eight votes to override a mayoral veto, but it is likely to meet other legal challenges.

District 1 (Richmond) Supervisor Eric Mar, one of the sponsors, said at the rally that the 2008 changes were  “A back step for the cities 1989 Sanctuary policy.”

The board begins a four-week recess and  will reconvene for regular sessions on September 14th.

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