Despite tireless organizing and community presence that packed the main hearing room as well the “over-flow” room, the San Francisco Detainer Policy was unfortunately not able to have its first hearing before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Organizers and advocates were successful in limiting the harmful impact of carve outs on community members, but the negotiation to ensure this took much longer than hoped for. The first reading and ultimate passage of this critical legislation will be slightly delayed, though ultimately justice will be served for many immigrant families when it comes back before the Board.
The SF Board of Supervisors was set to debate the Due Process Ordinance -- considered a broadly-supported ordinance by Supervisor. John Avalos (D-11) to end the city’s response to burdensome and likely unconstitutional immigration hold requests from federal authorities.
The measure would heal the painful impacts of the discredited “Secure” Communities or S-Comm deportation program, which has roiled San Francisco for three years. The program has deported hundreds of local residents and created a chilling effect for witnesses and survivors of crimes who want to work with local law enforcement, but fear deportation.
As the Due Process for All Ordinance has moved forward, there has been a misguided suggestion that the policy be amended to include "carve outs" whereby local law enforcement can be burdened with ICE hold requests in some circumstances. However, due process is everyone's right and any entanglement with ICE will deter immigrant victims of crime from reporting to local police. Up until the day the ordinance was set to be debated before the board, a broad coalition of groups worked diligently to stem what would have been detrimental carve-outs to the proposed ordinance.
Said one woman who testified at a previous committee hearing:
“Police arrested me and I didn’t even know why. I thought I was being taken in to declare as a witness what happened to me. Instead I was detained for four days. I thought I was going in front of a judge. I didn’t know my charges, Several days later I was turned over to ICE. It has been very difficult for me and my kids. I didn’t know why I was there. I had the luck to finally be released on bail but how many do not make or have the resources for that and all of those families are still being separated?”
In a recent SF Chronicle op-ed, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón came out firmly against immigration holds of any kind. DA Gascon's powerful statement exposes the profound constitutional abuses that stem from immigration hold requests. Click here to read the full op-ed.
The “Due Process for All” ordinance would bring San Francisco in line with the practices of Cook Couny, IL (Chicago), Santa Clara County, CA, Washington, DC, and Newark, NJ, none of which currently respond to ICE holds. Meanwhile, a bill advancing in California’s legislature, the TRUST Act, would set an important minimum standard limiting some harmful hold requests throughout the state.