SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - The debate over San Francisco's sanctuary city status is stirring up new controversy in the mayoral race.
One of the candidates, Angela Alioto, says she wants to make sure convicted felons don't benefit from the city's sanctuary laws.
San Francisco's sanctuary status has put it at the forefront of the nation's debate on immigration. Alioto, a former city supervisor, is looking to take the idea to the voters on November's ballot.
Alioto said she wrote the city's original sanctuary rules, but that over the years, the rules changed. With the way they stand now, she said convicted felons benefit from the city's policy.
"I have gone all over the city for the last five months and when we talk about the sanctuary law and the fact that felons are included in the sanctuary law, the public is outraged," Alioto said on Friday.
Her idea for a ballot measure would exclude felons from sanctuary protection.
Alioto's call has stirred debate in the city with Mayor Mark Farrell saying on KTVU's Mornings on 2, that the would-be mayor's initiative is off base and "out-of-touch" with San Francisco values.
"I would say don't attack our community, don't attack our immigrants here in San Francisco, don't buy into the Donald Trump rhetoric. In San Francisco we support our immigrant community. We always have and we always will," Farrell said.
Joining Mayor Farrell in his opinion are State Senator Scott Wiener and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.
The senator and D.A. held a joint news conference to push for Senate Bill 785, which would prevent attorneys from asking witnesses or victims about their immigration status on the stand, unless a judge says it's relevant.
They say amending the city's sanctuary rules would make the city a more dangerous place, not safer.
"And so I call on Angela Alioto to cut it out. To stop. To, you know, back away, focus on the real issues facing out city," said Wiener (D-San Francisco).
"I also support the comments from Senator Wiener concerning the conversation that is going on with a candidate here in the city trying to unwind sanctuary city [law]," Gascon said.
Alioto said city leaders are at best mischaracterizing her position.
"It's simply dishonest. They can read. Both of them are lawyers. I attached the 13 pages and I attached the petition," she said.
Alioto told KTVU she will continue to push for a ballot measure to exclude felons. She needs more than 9,400 signatures by mid-July to get the measure in front of voters in November.