"Whatever happened to my sanctuary city amendment?"

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Last August, David Campos announced proposed sanctuary legislation. Now he wants to know what happened to it
Photo by Sarah Phelan

Yesterday, Sup. David Campos called for a status report on steps taken by San Francisco’s Juvenile Probation Department to implement an ordinance that the Board passed last fall to protect the confidentiality of juveniles’ immigration status.

And it already sounds like JPD has done nothing to implement it—and isn’t planning to, either, any time soon.

Campos announced that he met with Juvenile Probation Department (JPD) Chief William Siffermann today, and Siffermann told him that he had no intention of complying with the ordinance, which the Board passed Nov. 10, 2009.

JPD has had three months to figure out how best to implement the ordinance, which Campos helped author last year, and which seeks to give kids their day in court before handing them over tofederal immigration authorities for possible deportation.

Campos said he called the hearing so all the folks who worked to pass the legislation, and those it impacts, “have a public forum to hear about the decision not to implement it.”

Campos also requested a report on the impacts of JPD’s current policy towards suspected undocumented juvenile felons—a policy that Newsom ordered without public review and that JPD implemented on August 2008.

The report, Campos said, will include but is not limited to, the following:

1.    Determinations of cases of undocumented immigrant youth—original changes and final determination by the courts.

This will involve exploring not only what these youth were originally charged with at booking, but also what the local juvenile courts ultimately determined in their cases. So, expect to see a pattern in which the courts throw out or reduce the charges that resulted in these juveniles being reported to the feds at the moment of booking. Only, by the time the courts reach this determination, these kids have already been nabbed by the feds and transferred to detention facilities outside the city and/or state—a practice that has already resulted in the needless ripping apart of immigrant families.

2.    Policies, procedures and training provided to staff regarding inquiry into the immigration status of youth and compliance with the 1989 City of Refuge ordinance.

This exploration will likely lead to some eye-opening revelations as to how juvenile probation officers are expected, under the policy that Newsom ordered in 2008,  to question youth suspected of being undocumented, and how that contrasts/compares with the city’s original sanctuary ordinance which the Board implemented in 1989.
3.    The numbers of undocumented immigrant youth that have been reported to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since Newsom ordered his change in sanctuary policy direction in 2008.

Up until now, it’s been almost impossible to discover exactly how many kids the city has handed over to ICE under Newsom’s new policy. Yes, even though the city is now spending local tax payer dollars to hand local immigrants’ kids over to the feds, the city has not told the public how many kids have been handed over or their current whereabouts. This information, coupled with information about the final determinations that local courts made in these kids’ cases, will likely be another mind blower.

4.    Changes in caseload and staffing as a result of implementing Newsom’s new sanctuary policy direction in 2008.
Again, expect to see some interesting patterns emerge. Has the city saved money by referring kids to ICE at the moment of booking? How about time? And just how well trained are juvenile probation officers in the intricacies of immigration law, anyway?

5.    Information about department financial and human resources dedicated to collaboration with ICE.

This is where the proverbial shit may truly start hitting the fan. Are we needlessly alienating the immigrant community?  Are we doing so in counter productive ways?

As chair of the Rules Committee, Campos promised to schedule this hearing as soon as possible, so watch the Board’s committee calendar and expect to see sparks fly.