Vicious circle - Page 3

Violence in the Mission is increasing — but immigrants are less likely to want to talk to the police

That further embarrassed Newsom.

Kris Kobach, a one-time counsel to former US Attorney General John Ashcroft and the current Kansas Republican Party chair, is representing several surviving members of the Bologna family, who filed suit against the city claiming its sanctuary policies were a "substantial factor" in the slaying and blaming the Juvenile Probation Department for adopting "official and unofficial policies."

Russoniello claims that a review of monthly records that JPD has kept since 2004 show an uptick in alleged juvenile Honduran felons, and that this should have been a tip-off. "Are people gaming the system, or are organized groups taking advantage of the city's leniency?" Russoniello asked.

Noting that 30 percent of these so-called teens were in fact adults and that significant numbers of gang members are "illegal aliens," Russoniello claims that the spur to shift policy was the city's attempt to transport people back to Honduras in December 2007, which was brought to his attention in January, when he took office.

"We attempted to remedy it quietly, without much success," Russoniello recalls. "The city decided to send people to group homes. If you want to find a political agenda, look to the Mayor's Office."

Calls to Ryan remained unanswered as of press time, but mayoral spokesperson Nathan Ballard e-mailed us that Newsom ordered a new policy direction May 22 "because he felt the old policy violated the intent of a sanctuary city, which is to promote cooperation by undocumented residents with law enforcement, not to harbor criminals."

The city attorney issued an opinion authorizing notification on July 1, Ballard wrote. Notification began July 3, and written protocols were publicly presented Sept. 10.

As for Russoniello's comment about political agendas, Ballard retorted, "This isn't about politics, it's about public safety. In order to preserve the sanctuary city policy, we need to ensure that it complies with state and federal law so that it is not vulnerable to attack."