Ice Man Cometh for Undocumented Youth

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Sifferman confirms that San Francisco will contact ICE about undocumented juveniles.

On the eve of the seventh anniversary of 9/11, San Francisco's Chief Probation Officer William P. Siffermann announced that it is now the policy of the City's Juvenile Probation Department, “to inform the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in every case where a person is in custody after being booked for the alleged commission of a felony and is suspected of violating the civil provisions of the immigration laws.”

Sifferman’s report on the City’s juvenile probation policy marks a pronounced rightward shift away from San Francisco’s original Sanctuary City policy. And while his report is dated August 26, immigration rights advocates confirm that the City has been cooperating with ICE since July, when Mayor Gavin Newsom announced that he was exploring a run for Governor.

But beyond appearing to make gubernatorial hopeful Newsom look tough on crime, this policy shift means that authority has been taken away from San Francisco's Juvenile Court system, without so much as please or thank you.

And then there's the unfortunate reality that this policy will likely make undocumented persons who witness, or are victims of crime, go deeper into the shadows, giving gangs like MS-13 even greater impunity.

If you don't believe me that this new policy raises some seriously red flags, consider the following extract from Siffermann's report:

“In determining whether there is reasonable suspicion [my italics] that a person is present in violation of the fedeal immigration laws, the On-Duty officer shall take into consideration a combination of objective factors including but not limited to…presence of undocumented persons in the same areas where arrested or involved in the same illegal activity, affiliation with a criminal street gang known to be comprised of undocumented persons, [my italics] and court or criminal history information showing a prior ICE hold or proceedings.”

Wow, that sounds pretty all-encompasssing.

Or how about this:

“Promptly after [my italics] notifying ICE, the assiged Probation Officer shall make reasonable attempts to inform the person’s parent, guardian or other responsible adult of the referral to ICE.”

So, even before guilt is established, and long before undocumented juveniles have a chance of having their alleged felony charges dropped or reduced, ICE will be alerted? Double Wow. Hardly the kind of situation that will make their undocumented mommas and papas want to visit them at Juvenile Hall any time soon.

Ron Stueckle of Sunset Youth Services perhaps summed it up best when he voiced his feeling that it was “morally wrong” for the San Francisco to be helping ICE in this way.

“I’m not talking about harboring felons and fugitives or letting terrorists hide in the caves of Twin Peaks,.“ Stueckle said. “I’m talking about youth who are trying desperately for survival.”