Sheriff, Supervisors Disagree On Immigration Sanctuary

San Francisco Sheriff Vicki Hennessy said Thursday that city jail officials should be allowed to turn over some serious criminal offenders to federal immigration agents — a proposal she put forth at a public hearing during which Supervisor John Avalos introduced legislation seeking to make sure there is almost no such cooperation.

Avalos’ measure, which was forwarded by the supervisors’ public safety committee to the full board, would further tighten the city’s sanctuary-city laws, which are cherished by advocates for immigrants but have drawn controversy nationally.

he measure would prohibit the jail from telling immigration agents who want to deport a person when he or she will be released from local custody, except in very limited circumstances.

But Hennessy set up the parameters of a coming debate, saying, “A blanket policy of no notification is not consistent with my responsibility to provide public safety.”

San Francisco’s Sanctuary City and Due Process for All ordinance now bars the city from holding jail inmates flagged by immigration agents for hours or days past their release date, but it does not specifically outlaw prerelease notifications — which have been embraced by some other counties. Avalos’ legislation would forbid Hennessy’s agency from making such notifications.

Under Hennessy’s proposal, her department would still not work with immigration agents in most cases, but would make an exception if a person has a violent or serious felony conviction in the past seven years or three or more lesser felonies arising from different events in the past five years.

The city’s sanctuary-city law drew attention last year after a man wanted for deportation by federal authorities was instead released from San Francisco jail and was then accused of killing a woman on Pier 14 on the Embarcadero.

By Vivian Ho for SF Gate
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