Crossing over - Page 4

Arizona law changing the political dynamics on immigration, in SF and across the country

Thousands poured into the streets on May 1 to march for federal immigration reform

The incident also served as a vivid reminder to those who support immigration reform and the city's sanctuary city law that Newsom hasn't been on their side for a long time.



Immigrant rights advocates are expressing renewed concern about Newsom's failure to implement a Campos-authored and board-approved amendment to his policy on turning juvenile immigrants over to federal authorities before they've had their day in court.

Since Newsom ordered his new policy, more than 160 youth have been referred to federal immigration authorities for possible deportation. As a result, kids who subsequently see all felony charges against them dismissed or reduced, find themselves ripped from their families and in danger of being deported.

Advocates also noted that they have not seen any evidence that language they believe is an open invitation to racial profiling has been removed from the mayor's policy, which Newsom ordered without public review in July 2008, the day after he announced his failed bid to become the next governor of California.

Juvenile Probation Department Chief William Siffermann assured the Guardian in March that such language was being removed following a contentious March 4 hearing. Campos questioned the JPD chief about the origin of language in Newsom's policy. The language states that in determining whether there is reasonable suspicion that youth is undocumented, one of the criteria listed is the "presence of undocumented persons."

Siffermann replied that the policy was based on review and approval of the City Attorney's Office.

Campos asked if Siffermann could see "how something as open-ended as this could lead to racial profiling?"

"It could," Siffermann replied. "It requires vigilant oversight. If that criterion was taken alone, we'd have a problem with that."

That concern echoes those of critics of the Arizona law, which purports to ban racial profiling while requiring police officers who suspect people of being an undocumented immigrants to ask for their citizenship papers. Those parallels are uniting San Francisco officials on the otherwise divisive issue.

Tensions arose between Campos and Herrera's office following Newsom's refusal to implement Campos' due process amendment for immigrant youth, with Campos and immigrant advocates saying Herrera should do more to force its implementation. Now Campos said a renewed push for action could be the silver lining in Arizona's otherwise bad legal situation.

"I think there has been a respectful disagreement between my office and Herrera's about just how far they could go," Campos said. "We believe the city attorney can and should advise Newsom that the Mayor's Office doesn't have the authority to do what he is doing [requiring probation officers to notify ICE when juveniles suspected of being undocumented are arrested, in violation of Campos's legislation]. But I appreciate what the city attorney is doing around Arizona."

Campos and Herrera note that a boycott proved to be an effective model in forcing Arizona to rethink its refusal to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 20 years ago.

Asked if Arizona's SB 1070 will change the national immigration debate and the city's local policy toward immigrant juveniles, Herrera said, "I don't think anything with respect to the state of our immigration laws could get any worse. Otherwise, we'll probably end up with draconian policies being put forward by other states."

Herrera also believes the national debate could allow quicker implementation of San Francisco's sanctuary city reform, telling us, "Obviously the debate will provide the vehicle to have the discussion to clarify the distinctions between state and federal law."

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