SF supervisor disagrees with sanctuary law

August 18, 2009 8:06:21 PM PDT
The city of San Francisco changed its so-called sanctuary city policy last year to allow more undocumented teenagers to be turned over to federal immigration officials. But now some San Francisco lawmakers want to reverse course to prevent these young people from deportation.

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Maria Blanco says her 15-year-old son Eric was arrested for assault and stealing a cell phone. He now faces deportation to El Salvador.

"At first as a mom what went through my mind was they just taking away my life," said Blanco through a translator.

Blanco came to City Hall along with dozens of others pushing for a redo of San Francisco's so-called 'sanctuary city law.' That law originally protected undocumented juveniles who were arrested for crimes from being turned over to federal immigration, known as ICE.

But last year, the mayor decided ICE should know about those kids and activists say more than 100 are now looking at deportation.

On Tuesday, Supervisor David Campos introduced legislation so the law would apply.

"Being accused of something is different from actually doing it, and so if you report someone at the booking stage , you can have someone wrongly accused for something they did not do and because you reported them, they are automatically deported," said Campos.

But U.S. attorney Joe Russoniello believes that's nothing more than an attempt to undermine federal law.

"The idea that only people who are convicted of felonies in the juvenile system are the ones that will be refereed makes no sense. Juveniles don't get felony convictions. so for all intents and purposes no one would ever be referred to ICE," said Russoniello.

Rusoniello says the feds support the current policy.

Mayor Gavin Newsom put it in place as a response to the high profile triple murder of Tony Bologna and his two sons.

The suspect, Edwin Ramos, is an illegal immigrant who had prior brushes with the law but was never referred to immigration.

"The mayor is very clear although he is a strong supporter of sanctuary city, if you are ever picked up for a felony in San Francisco, you've lost the protection of the sanctuary city ordinance," said Mayor Newsom's spokesperson Nathan Ballard.

These activists are hopeful the Board of Supervisors will disagree.

"These are good children and they deserve a second chance," said a protester.

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