San Francisco’s new Sheriff Vicki Hennessy is working hard to fulfill a campaign promise that helped her win a landslide election against incumbent Ross Mirkarimi. Sworn in on January 8, Hennessy gathered together her staff and legal counsel to put a new policy in place that would void Mirkarimi’s order which barred the city’s jail deputies from sharing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement information such as the detainee’s immigration status, arrest documents or release dates unless they showed a warrant or a court order.
|Sheriff Vikki Hennessy moves swiftly to fulfill campaign promise.|
Mirkarimi issued his memo just weeks before five-time deported, seven-time convicted felon Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez shot and killed Kate Steinle. The brutal murder immediately set off a flurry of media coverage, and brought Mirkarimi’s dangerous policy to the attention of an incredulous nation.
The outcome of Hennessy’s proposed change is far from certain. Through his spokeswoman, Mayor Ed Lee issued a statement that suggested his approval, assuming San Francisco’s illegal sanctuary status is not compromised. But immigration advocates and some members of the Board of Supervisors indicated that they’ll vigorously oppose any changes. Supervisor David Campos said that Hennessey is taking “a step in the wrong direction.” Supervisor John Avalos also challenged Hennessey. Avalos was part of a recent local protest against the Department of Homeland Security’s plan to deport Central Americans that came to the U.S. illegally after January 1, 2014.
Avalos’ proposal is similar to Mirkarimi’s: to “prohibit law enforcement officials from responding to a federal immigration officer’s request for voluntary notification that a person will be released from local custody, except for adults who have been convicted of a violent felony and held to answer for a violent felony.”
Bottom line: Hennessey wants more cooperation between her office and ICE; Avalos wants none.
The outcome of Hennessy’s goal to roll back Mirkarimi’s order is uncertain. Hennessy promised, perhaps ill-advisedly, to work with activists who will present a united and vocal voice to keep Mirkarimi’s directive in place, and will also have the wholehearted Board of Supervisors’ support.
To begin 2016, CAPS launched a campaign here to end sanctuary cities which Mayor Lee still endorses, and to bring to more Americans’ attention to the Department of Homeland Security’s indifference to the dangers this egregious policy poses. Read more about the campaign’s importance here.