In an 8-3 veto-proof vote on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation that relaxes the year-old policy of reporting undocumented youth to immigration authorities as soon as they are charged with a felony.
Mayor Gavin Newsom has said that he will ignore the new legislation, which requires authorities to hold on notifying immigration until a judge has upheld a juvenile’s felony charge, but District 9 Supervisor David Campos said that if the mayor refuses to enforce the new law, the board may take legal action.
“Mayors do not actually have the authority to decide on their own what is legal and what isn’t—that is up to the courts,” Campos said. “When you become an official of a city you take a note to follow the laws of that city. Until those laws are found to be illegal, you have an obligation to follow.”
Newsom, who has asked juvenile probation officers to continue following the current policy, said he will not enforce the new ordinance because it conflicts with federal law.
According to Arellano, the new policy weakens the defense for probation officers under investigation in a federal grand jury case.
According to Campos, there has been no case against any city employee anywhere regarding sanctuary city.
“We expect not only the mayor but also every official or employee of the city to follow the laws that were duly enacted by the board,” Campos added.
The current policy affects Estela Muniz and her 15-year-old daughter, who has a mental disability and epilepsy.
An immigration hold was put against her daughter for fighting with her sister, she said.
Muniz said it was just like any other sibling fight, except her daughter had told a school official about the fight. Fights, she said, are likely to happen in a household of 10 people.
“No policy is ever going to be perfect,” Arellano said about those who have been arrested for minor crimes, including Muniz’s family.
“I agree that when [youth] commit a crime, that they should be reprimanded,” she said as tears rolled down her face. “But when they don’t, I think we should have an opportunity. Youth need opportunities, we grow in life over time, it doesn’t happen overnight.”
Muniz, who works in hotel maintenance, said the experience has been traumatic.
“We come to this country to work hard not to do things that are against the law — now we are living in fear,” she said.
The mayor has 10 days to veto the ordinance. With an 8-3 majority, however, the board can override that veto up to 30 days after the mayor’s decision.
Supervisors Carmen Chu, Sean Elsbernd and Michela Alioto-Pier voted against the ordinance.
Earlier today, Poor Magazine held a rally in front of City Hall to support Campos’ legislation.
Lisa Gray-Garcia, co-editor of POOR Magazine and the PoorNewsNetwork kicked off the protest, putting special emphasis on “black-brown unity.”
“The concept of anybody being illegal in a sanctuary city is illogical,” she said.
Laure MkEvoy, a mother and activist, echoed these concerns. “I’m troubled by the mayors attitude,” she said. Hearkening back to Hilary Clinton’s idea that “it takes a village to raise a child,” MkEvoy asked why the city is abandoning its youth.
Teresa Molina, a reporter at Poor Magazine, felt much the same. Speaking in Spanish, she said, “our youth have rights–the right to feel safe in their own homes,” and, she added, “a right to a review of their cases.”
Nicolasa Molina was a school teacher in her home country in Latin America, but now lives in the city and works as a house cleaner. “We’re in this country not because we want to be. We are here to fight for a better life every day against people in this country who discriminate against us.”
When asked about the mayor’s rejection of the Campos proposal, she said, “It’s a great injustice.”
Although she doesn’t have children of her own that are minors, she said she knows many people in her community who are scared their kids will be deported, in some cases to a country they have never known.
Lily Mihalik contributed reporting to this article.