Bay Area mayors respond to Trump sanctuary city plan

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU & BCN) -- President Donald Trump today signed an executive order denying federal grant funds to cities such as San Francisco with "sanctuary city" policies limiting local law enforcement's cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

San Francisco receives around $1 billion in funding from the federal government across all categories but Mayor Ed Lee today said the city is still working to determine exactly which funds will be affected by the order. He said Department of Homeland Security grant funds total somewhere around $10 million.

Several local activists blasted Trump's plan.

On the front steps of San Francisco City Hall Wednesday, activists rallied with signs and chants, saying they're ready to fight Trump.

"As San Franciscans, this is where we are at our best this is where we are our strongest!" said an emotional Supervisor Sandra Fewer, who described herself as the granddaughter of a man who came to America on false papers. "This is where we are the most effective when we know that there is a violation of human rights here this is where we excel this is where we lead the nation and we say we will not back down."

Her sentiments were echoed by Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who also gave an impassioned speech.

"We are united and will fight the together against the racism and xenophobia that is coming out of your administration," Ronen said.

Mayor Lee said the order is vague so it's still too early to tell which programs will be affected.

"They didn't say all federal grants as far as we know so we're looking at that closely and trying to determine in communications with homeland security what do they actually mean," Lee said.

Leo Lacayo, of the San Francisco Hispanic Republican Assembly, said he approves of Trump's plan.

"I think it's excellent (and) long overdue," he said. The Sanctuary City law "doesn't help keep San Franciscans safe from crime because this is about detaining illegal immigrants and turning them over to the federal authorities that commit crimes (like) rapes, murders or gangs (and) drug dealers."

"This really is an attack on immigrants," said Saira Hussein, an immigrant rights attorney who works for the Asian Law Caucus.

She said Trump's plan is to add 10,000 ICE officers nationwide and to resurrect the Secure Communities program, which focuses on jail-based deportations and was abolished in 2014 under the Obama White House.

"The immmigration agents went far outside of the scope of the priorities," Hussein said.

"Our city is still a sanctuary city and we are going to remain a sanctuary city," Lee said.

The mayor said he believed San Francisco's sanctuary city policy makes the city safe. The policy is intended to increase trust and cooperation between local law enforcement and immigrant communities, as well as make it possible for immigrants to access services such as education and health care.

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The policy has been the subject of controversy, most recently following the July 1, 2015, shooting of Kate Steinle, a 32-year-old Pleasanton native who was killed while walking on Pier 14.

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a Mexican citizen with a history of drug convictions and deportations, was arrested an hour later and charged with killing her with a gun that had been stolen from the car of a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger.

Steinle's family sued San Francisco because the sheriff's department had released Lopez-Sanchez from jail a short time before the shooting without notifying immigration authorities, as dictated by city policy.

However, a federal judge threw out the family's case against the city earlier this month, saying there was no law requiring the city to disclose his release date.

The Board of Supervisors voted in May to uphold and revise the sanctuary city policy to clarify that law enforcement would only notify immigration authorities of an inmate's release in limited circumstances involving serious felonies.

The mayors of several Bay Area cities responded to Trump's plan to withhold funding to sanctuary cities:

  • "The Bay Area stands united against this White House’s morally bankrupt policies that would divide families, turn our nation’s back on refugees in need, and potentially thwart the efforts of nearly one million productive young people who are on a legal path to citizenship. Oaklanders rely on $130 million in federal funding for everything from early education programs like Head Start to getting officers out of their cars and onto our streets at a time when community policing is so desperately needed. We will not allow this president to play politics with our safety and security." – Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf
  • "Nothing about the President’s Executive Order will change how San Jose cops police our city. The San Jose Police Department’s longstanding policies relating to immigration enforcement are critical to keeping our community safe. Our police officers must focus their scarce time responding to and investigating violent, predatory and other high-priority crimes – not the enforcement of federal tax laws, federal securities laws, or federal immigration laws. There’s a broad consensus among major city police chiefs that having local officers meddle in federal immigration enforcement undermines public safety, and diminishes community trust. We need to ensure that all residents feel comfortable calling 911, reporting crimes, coming forward as witnesses, and testifying in court to help us keep criminals off the street." – San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo
  • "The Bay Area is home to millions of people who have sought refuge and a chance at a better life. As mayors, we stand together in our responsibility to keep our cities safe and healthy and take care of all our residents and families, regardless of status. We will not give in to threats, or political grandstanding. Together, the Bay Area will stay true to our values of inclusiveness, compassion and equality, and united against any and all efforts to divide our residents, our cities, and our country." – San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee
  • "Our values of human rights, equity, and inclusion have come under attack by the Trump Administration. In just two days, Trump has pushed a divisive wall, stripped our citizens of civil liberties, and cut funding to cities that have the courage to stand up for all people – whether or not they are legal citizens. We will not be intimidated by threats to cut funding to cities that believe in the fundamental notion that no person is illegal. No amount of federal funding is worth betraying our values." – Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín

KTVU reporter Tara Moriarty contributed to this report.

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