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Supervisor David Campos sent a letter today asking City Attorney Dennis Herrera to give his legal opinion on  the mayor’s refusal to implement the sanctuary city ordinance amendment passed last month.

Matt Dorsey, Herrera’s spokesperson, said that the city attorney would comply  but did not specify when.

The law, which went into effect today, states that probation officers can only report youth booked on a felony to Immigration Customs Enforcement if a judge upholds the felony charge. At present, they are reported as soon as they are booked and charged with a felony.

“If allowed to stand, Mayor [Gavin] Newsom’s unilateral decision would have ramifications that go beyond the issue of sanctuary,” Campos wrote in a memo to Herrera. “It would undermine the democratic process that is at the heart of our system.”

Newsom, however, said that he will ignore the policy. Following suit is the Juvenile Probation Department, which released a memo saying it would continue  following the current proposal until further notice.

Even though today is the day it becomes law, the implementation deadline, or the day the department has to follow it, is 60 days from now.

Juvenile Probation Department Chief William Sifferman said earlier in the month that the department would have talks with the City Attorney and the mayor on how to implement a policy that is “consistent with state and federal laws.”

Sheila Chung-Hagen, Campos’ legislative aide, said that the Juvenile Probation Department could start implementing the change today, but because they are waiting for direction from the mayor, the focus is on making the mayor implement it.

Immigrant rights advocates are also meeting with the city attorney on how to implement the policy and are also urging him to advise the mayor to implement it.

“They (immigration lawyers) are experts on immigration law so we are keeping the door open,” Dorsey said, adding that the city attorney is an elected official who has to meet with the public.

Dorsey added that it is the city attorney’s job to “defend the laws that were duly-enacted.” He said the city attorney cannot advise policy makers, in this case, the mayor, on whether to implement a policy or not.

The city attorney’s job is to inform policy makers on the law and tell them what the risk might be.

“Much hangs in the balance of your decision,” Campos wrote to Herrera.

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Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare time he can be found riding his bike around the city, going to Giants games and admiring the Stable building.

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  1. I applaud Campos! Since when are people judged “guilty” without a chance to defend themselves? I remember when Newsom was trumpeting that San Francisco was a sanctuary city. As soon as the Chronicle began playing up news about a few undocumented kids who escaped from a juvenile residential program, he began changing his tune. Then, when the Chronicle really went crazy over a heinous murder by an undocumented adult who had gone through the juvenile system when younger, Newsom forgot all about what a sanctuary city is supposed to be and condemned all undocumented kids to the possibility of deportation without representation. For kids who grew up here and can’t even remember their so-called native country, one incident (real or suspected) that is charged as a felony is enough to send them somewhere they don’t even know. That’s a “sanctuary city”? Even a shoplifting charge (which many of us upstanding citizens tried out as teenagers) can be charged as a felony.

    Judging by these comments, I’m wondering what kind of people read your newspaper, anyway? I hope these aren’t the folks who are gentrifying the Mission District.

  2. Just what we need is our board of supervisors changing federal laws. How about fixing San Francisco first. Campos is out of control and this policy is going to cost taxpayers a fortune in lawsuits. Just what a resource strapped city needs …
    It’s time board of supes woke up and took a good look at the shambles this city is in.

  3. Campos
    Your so wrong. You are the one who is destroying the democratic system with your new law. You are going against Federal law.
    You are the one who wants to pick and choose which laws to enforce. You should be voted out of office with all the others who voted for this Law. By the way Illegal Alien is the correct name, not undocumented immigrants.