With about two dozen people present, a coalition of activists from the Mission district held a last-minute press conference at the 24th Street BART station to condemn plans by mayoral candidate Angela Alioto to repeal the city’s blanket sanctuary status for immigrants. The gathering happened on Friday afternoon, a day after Alioto made the plans public.
As reported in the SF Examiner, Alioto criticized San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy for giving “murderers, rapists, child molesters and other felons safe harbor in our city.” The remarks drove people like former Supervisor David Campos to call her comments xenophobic.
“We are here to say: We in San Francisco are not going to stand for that hatred and divisiveness,” said former Supervisor David Campos.
Alioto told reporters earlier in the week that she planned to gather signatures for a ballot initiative to cripple the city’s Sanctuary City protection status. With enough signatures, her proposal could end up on the November ballot.
The press conference drew activists from a variety of organizations, like the Latino Democratic Club of San Francisco, the Mission Peace Collaborative and United to Save the Mission. Along with the Latin@ Young Democrats, these organizations wrote an open letter to Alioto in which they denounced her claims and called for an open dialogue instead of implementing “far-right policies.”
Jon Jacobo, the co-president of the San Francisco Latin@ Young Democrats, said they plan to rally community members and dismissed Alioto’s message as hurtful and inflammatory.
Alioto’s comments incited a strong reaction from the activists present, many of who have immigrant backgrounds or are children of undocumented immigrants.
A sanctuary city status mean cities like San Francisco and Oakland do not cooperate with federal immigration and deportation raids.
“We wanted to make a strong stand that in the era of Trump, touching something as protected like a sanctuary city is not going to happen,” Jon Jacobo said.
Tracy Brown, a fourth-generation San Franciscan, said when she heard Alioto’s proposal, she felt a mix of emotions, including anger and shock.
“I just feel like immigrants keep on being the people we can bash on in politics. No one is coming out to defend immigrants in the way we need to.”
A special election is set for June 8, where residents will be voting for a new mayor. Candidate Angela Alioto is the daughter of former city mayor Joseph Alioto.