SF voters support denying sanctuary protections to undocumented fentanyl dealers, poll finds

Lyanne Melendez Image
Thursday, May 4, 2023
SF voters weigh in on sanctuary policy in light of fentanyl crisis
In a survey of 500 potential voters in San Francisco were asked: "Should fentanyl felony dealing not have sanctuary city protections?"

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For the first time ever, a group of potential San Franciscan voters was asked about the fentanyl crisis and whether undocumented drug dealers should be denied protection under the city's sanctuary laws. The overwhelming majority said "yes" in favor of denying that kind of protection. The survey was conducted by the polling firm EMC.

It's 11 o'clock in the morning and as expected the streets of the Tenderloin are buzzing around the highly addictive and potentially fatal drug fentanyl.

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Over the past three years, San Francisco has seen about 2,000 deaths directly linked to drug overdoses.

About 1,500 of those are attributed to fentanyl.

In a survey of 500 potential voters in San Francisco, a poll conducted by the national firm EMC Research asked: "Should fentanyl felony dealing not have sanctuary city protections?"

Seventy percent said they supported denying sanctuary protection, 20 percent opposed it and 10 percent did not know or refused to answer.

Here's how the CEO of EMC interprets those findings.

"I think it probably is frustration around acknowledging that there is a problem," said Ruth Bernstein, CEO of EMC Research, a reputable national polling firm.

Supervisor Matt Dorsey, a recovering addict, currently has a proposed ordinance that would exclude fentanyl felony dealing from being protected under sanctuary city laws.

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Monday marks the start of Gov. Newsom's move to crack down on San Francisco's open-air drug market with CHP officers and the state's National Guard.

"I think we can make a minor adjustment to our sanctuary city policies to add the deadliest crime in San Francisco history to a list of crimes that many of them are less serious than fentanyl," said Dorsey.

But it's unlikely that his ordinance will pass as a few supervisors have objected, including Hillary Ronen who claims many of the undocumented drug dealers are on the streets against their will.

"There are people that lure immigrants to San Francisco in the promise of getting construction jobs and then when they're here they threaten that if they don't participate in selling drugs that they will harm family members back home and they know where they live, that's a reality that is happening in San Francisco," revealed Supervisor Ronen during a rally at City Hall last February.

ABC7 News went to the heart of the Tenderloin to ask those who were openly dealing if that was true.

Were they promised a construction job and instead ended up dealing drugs?

One by one, they refused to answer our questions.

But a long-time resident who knows many of the drug dealers confirmed Ronen's claims.

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"That's like 80 percent of people out here from my understanding that a lot of people come out here with illusions that they are going to work in construction or some sort of labor job and end up selling drugs out here," said Ruben Villegas, a resident of the Tenderloin.

But Tom Wolf, a recovering fentanyl and heroin addict who says he assisted drug dealers, insists that many are not victims of the narco-trade.

"I know they are having custom-built homes made, constructed in their country of origin. They showed me pictures on their phones. I sued to help them wire money back to their native countries because I had an ID and they didn't because they are undocumented," added Wolf.

So, how will lawmakers like Supervisor Dorsey use the results of this survey?

"It allows them to kinda do a check. Am I thinking the same thing that voters are thinking?" said Bernstein.

"It's good to know that if this is something that we do go to voters with next year, I think I would have very strong support from voters so that is going to weigh on some of my decision-making about what we do next year," said Dorsey.

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