Amidst backlash against immigrants that has broken out since the killing of Kathryn Steinle allegedly by an undocumented immigrant facing possible deportation, members of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee voted last night to renew the committee’s support for San Francisco’s policy of being a sanctuary city to immigrants.
Though the term is only loosely defined, sanctuary cities generally adopt policies to be uncooperative in federal immigration enforcement operations, or to discourage local law enforcement from inquiring after a person’s immigration status.
“I think we have an opportunity to unite as a party,” said Joshua Arce, the committee member who put forward the resolution. “We’ve all come together to express our condolences [to Steinle’s family], but at the same time we’re witnessing a series of attacks on immigrants.”
Supervisor David Campos, also a member of the committee, proposed an amendment that went a step further, strongly urging the city not to cooperate with the new federal Priority Enforcement Program, a renaming of the federal Secure Communities program that was also strongly opposed by San Francisco politicians. The program collects information police booking information on suspects to see if they are on a priority list for deportation.
To the dismay of civil rights advocates, the information is shared before it is clear whether a suspect has committed a crime.
“There is a fear that if we go back on sanctuary city in San Francisco that that will have ramifications in other cities” Campos said. “We have to provide a context for what it means to be a sanctuary city today.”
Immigration scholar Susanne Jonas, who has studied migration from Guatemala and Central America for decades, has also opposed policies like the Priority Enforcement Program and mass deportations. She noted that fewer than 30 percent of those deported from local municipalities were in fact felons.
Jonas joined Mission Local for a radio interview to talk about sanctuary cities, immigration policy at the local and national level, and how gentrification affects immigrant communities in the Mission. Listen to the interview below, or online at BFF.fm. Jonas will also give a talk at Modern Times Bookstore at 7 p.m. tonight.