Supes to SF: Let's opt out of ICE's automatic fingerprint referral program


Just two weeks before a controversial collaboration between local police and ICE is set to get switched on in San Francisco, Sups. Eric Mar, John Avalos, David Campos, Chris Daly and Sophie Maxwell are introducing a  resolution that calls on the city to opt out of a program that could undermine public safety and threaten innocent community members with deportation.

Sheriff Michael Hennessey, who blew the whistle on this program, and Labor Council Executive Director Tim Paulson will join the supervisors May 18,  9 a.m. on the steps of City Hall. The resolution will be formally introduced at the Board's afternoon meeting.

Sup. Mar's legislative aide Lin-Shao Chin told the Guardian that it looks like an opt-out option is possible.
"It's very vague, the way it's written," Chin said, referring to the contract that the Department of Homeland Security has drafted and that cities are required to sign onto, via a statement of intent."So, while it doesn't say you can opt out, it's very vague, and from what we've heard, so far it's all just been verbal communication between the law enforcement agencies."

The fed's proposed Secure Communities Initiative (SCI) has been criticized by civil rights experts.They say the program causes immigrants to be reported for deportation without due process and that it destroys trust between the police and immigrant communities.

The program seeks to check the immigration status of anyone whose fingerprints are taken by law enforcement personnel by cross-checking fingerprints through a federal database. They warn that  immigrants who are simply charged with very  minor charges - such as selling ice cream bars without a permit-- or those who are overcharged on arrest--could end up torn from their families without due process and reported for deportation.
Advocates see similarities between the program and Arizona's SB1070, since SCI gives discretion to individual police officers, who may mistakenly arrest or overcharge innocent immigrant residents, thereby triggering their deportation. 

"ICE's own statistics, cited in news reports, indicate that some 88 percent of the 33,000 immigrants deported to date under the program had committed non-violent offenses or no offense at all," community advocates note.

"Five percent of people tagged are actually documented, and only 10 percent are actually felons," Chin claimed, warning that there is also, "the  potential for a whole bunch of databases, including those containing information on legal citizens, to be hooked together in ways that pose civil liberty concerns."

Earlier this month, Washington, DC's City Council unanimously introduced legislation that would prohibit local police from sharing arrest and booking information with ICE. But the Board's resolution will be the first in the nation to urge an opt-out.

"The feds didn't present opting-out as an option, they made it sound compulsory, but immigrant groups who met with ICE were verbally told the could opt out," Chin claimed.
"Immigrant advocates in Contra Costa and Alameda counties didn't even know their cities had opted into the program, until folks were referred to ICE. The good news is that we are touching this before we have been hooked into the program."

Chin said it seems the SFPD CHief George Gascon's office is "under the impression that the program is mandatory, but that's not the impression we get from ICE."
Chin also noted that the SCI is an "unfunded mandate," since there could be costs to cities and municipalities who have to hold folks in jail longer than usual, while they wait for the feds to come and pick them up.

"From what we have heard, these [SCI] contracts are negotiated at the state level," Chin added, suggesting that the ball on this issue in California lies within Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown's court.


Muchísimas Gracias to Sups. Eric Mar, John Avalos, David Campos, Chris Daly, Sophie Maxwell, Sheriff Michael Hennessey and Labor Council Executive Director Tim Paulson.

I see that Ross M. and Bevan D. are not on the list. Okay.

Posted by Sam on May. 17, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

A certain group of people can opt out of paying to ride the bus, driving with a license or insurance etc... why not just let them continue to be felons?

Posted by Mr Matlock on May. 18, 2010 @ 8:53 am

The majority of SF's citizens don't want to opt out. If you ask around outside your lefty circles, you'll find that people are sick of illegals who are criminals and prey on the Latino community and others. There is nothing wrong with running these prints. People who don't committ crimes, drive drunk or otherwise get arrested have nothing to worry about.

By the way, if you'd care to look it up, you'll find that section 834b of the California Penal Code has exactly the same requirements for law enforcement in CA as the text of the Arizona law. Perhaps you can boycott yourselves.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2010 @ 11:25 am

Sam, other supervisors, including Mirkarimi have since signed on. Last count, the number was up to seven supervisors (Avalos, Chiu, Campos, Daly. Maxwell, Mar, and Mirkarimi) with supporters hopeful that Sup.Bevan Dufty will also sponsor the legislation.



Posted by sarah on May. 18, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

Excelente. That's very good to hear. Gracias, Sarah.

Posted by Sam on May. 18, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

"Five percent of people tagged are actually documented,"

Chin... Help me understand ... if only 5% are documented, then are you saying 95% are Undocumented? Undocumented=Illeagal?

Hello Houston we have a problem...

Posted by Guest on May. 19, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

wasn't on board at the start.

I would guess that municipalities who resist may be standing to lose federal moneys they would otherwise receive. Anybody know?

Posted by Guest on May. 19, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

Once again the Supervisors are doing a masterful job of distorting the facts. An illegal alien who is in deportation proceedings already has due process rights, including the right to attorney. Illegal aliens do not have any right under the federal or state constitutions not to be reported by local law enforcement to the ICE. If the Supervisors are really in such a lather over the Secure Communities program, then why don't they go protest when President Obama comes to San Francisco this Tuesday to raise money for Barbara Boxer's re-election campaign? Why aren't they calling for a boycott of the Boxer fundraiser? The Supervisors are trying to have it both ways on this issue - this is just silly posturing on their part.

Posted by Colin V. Gallagher on May. 22, 2010 @ 5:01 pm