SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins reversed her position Wednesday in seeking to amend the city’s sanctuary policy related to two suspects accused of serious crimes, who fled to Mexico.
Jenkins, last month, had sought to have the Board of Supervisors make an exception to the city’s long-standing policy. It came after the Department of Homeland Security said it would not extradite two suspects facing prosecution in San Francisco unless the city agreed to notify immigration agents in case they were released from custody.
San Francisco’s sanctuary ordinance bars law enforcement from cooperating with immigration officials in most cases. The policy was established to protect victims in immigrant communities who feared deportation if they cooperated with law enforcement.
"These victims, who are also immigrants, deserve justice in these cases and they deserve it now," Jenkins said Wednesday after announcing she no longer supported changing the city’s sanctuary policy. "We are asking for the federal government’s cooperation in extraditing these men now so that they can face the consequences of their crimes."
Jenkins would not give details about the suspects facing extradition out of fear that they could further elude authorities. She said that one man is suspected in a 2009 domestic violence murder and the other was a warrant for multiple counts of child sex abuse.
Both suspects are facing life in prison if they are convicted, Jenkins said.
She said she abandoned her support for changing the city ordinance after hearing from community members and immigrants rights activists expressing concerns about changing the policy under pressure from the feds.
"Here in San Francisco we beam with pride about having one of the strongest and soundest sanctuary policies in the country," she said.
Jenkins’ reversal comes one day after the Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 on a resolution that promised to refuse to collaborate with immigration officials under the city’s sanctuary policy.
Separately, Supervisor Matt Dorsey has introduced legislation that would create an exception to the sanctuary policy for people convicted of dealing fentanyl.
Jenkins said her decision to change her position was not related to the board’s vote.
"I answer to the victims of crime. I answer to the community," she said. "What the community has articulated to me has fully resonated and that is the basis for my change in decision."
FREE SF Coalition, a longtime advocacy group that has supported the sanctuary city policy, hailed this latest development.
"We are glad that the Disrict Attorney has withdrawn this harmful proposal," the group said in a statement. They added, "Let's be clear, any collusion between law enforcement and DHS makes it harder for survivors to get the help they need."
Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EvanSernoffsky