San Francisco has proposed ending the detainment of immigrants suspected of living in the U.S. illegally, which would make it the first county in the nation to dismiss the orders of federal authorities in collecting them.
The proposed law was authored by Supervisor John Avalos and supported by a majority of the Board of Supervisors.
“The legislation is about due process against the arbitrary loss of liberty,” Avalos said, “There is no basic standard of proof to show that someone is undocumented and deserves to be detained.”
Supporters say increasing deportation has widened the gap of trust between law officials and immigrant communities, especially among Latinos, who make up 81 percent of undocumented immigrants.
Counties like Santa Clara have passed policies, though largely symbolic, in the same vein as Avalos’s measure, claiming the federal government has not reimbursed them for the cost of keeping illegal immigrants in jail, and will therefore no longer comply.
Though there is wide support for such a law, Supervisor Katy Tang holds reservations on the broad-sweeping language. Additionally, Police Chief Greg Suhr said violent felons, sex offenders and those with prior weapon possession convictions should be exempt from the law.
“I think that's important that we retain that discretion,” Suhr said, “because we certainly don’t want to become a safe haven for everybody else’s convicted violent felons, sex offenders or firearm possessors.”
Last year, San Francisco handed over 542 people to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.