Newsom vetoes sanctuary amendment, Board mulls options


Text and photos by Sarah Phelan

All mothers of immigrant youth, like Estella (center) are asking, is for the City to give their kids a day in court before handing them over to the feds for possible deportation. Is that really too much to ask?

No one was surprised when Mayor Gavin Newsom vetoed the Board's newly passed sanctuary ordinance amendment today. That's because the mayor, in between leaking confidential memos, has been threatening to do that for months

But Newsom's move leaves the Board mulling its options, including legal action, since mayors don't seem to have the authority to refuse to enact legislation that's been approved by a veto-proof majority of supervisors.

Newsom's move also raises the question of the whereabouts of the 114 juveniles who have been picked up by federal immigration authorities since the mayor began requiring city probation officers to act like extensions of the federal government.

Under the policy that Newsom ordered without public input or review in June 2008, city officials are required to refer kids to US immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) based solely on allegations that they have committed a felony and on the probation officers' own suspicions that these kids are undocumented.

That seems like a huge burden to place on the probation officers' shoulders. And meanwhile, we are not aware of
anyone in the Mayor's Office giving any kind of public accounting of where these 114 youth,s who have been disappeared with the help of our tax payer dollars, are being held, or whether they actually have been deported.

Meanwhile, immigrant advocates report that they have had zero success getting Newsom to meet them in person, in the 16 months since the mayor ordered his policy shift, last summer.

Recently, faced with leaked memos and a damaging misinformation campaign , it's fallen to the parents of these disappeared children to explain the painful consequences of having their kids unjustly ripped from their families, and still the mayor refuses to meet with them.

Newsom claims that the sanctuary policy "was never meant to serve as a shield for people accused of committing serious crimes."

If that's true, then the policy needs the Campos amendment to make it a just and fair treatment of immigrant youth.

Under the Campos amendment, any immigrant juvenile found guilty of having committed a serious crime will be deported. But those found innocent will be spared the terrifying experience of finding themselves in federal hands, awaiting deportation, even though they never actually committed a felony crime.

Campos has repeatedly pointed out that federal law does not require city officials to act as federal agents.

But so far, Newsom's policy has done just that, and has already led to a 15-year old girl being whisked off to Miami, because she got in a fight with her sister, a 14-year old boy being taken into federal custody because he brought a BB gun to school, another youth being picked up by ICE for graffiti infractions, all because San Francisco probation officials picked up the phone and called ICE, before those kids had a chance to prove their innocence,

That's why eight supervisors, representing a city a third of whose inhabitants are foreign born, voted yesterday to make a minor amendment that will majorly improve Newsom's policy. And for that, the Board should be commended.