SF Supervisors unanimously approve sanctuary city policy protections

Image 1 of 2

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation to uphold the city's sanctuary city, or "pro-immigrant" policies on Tuesday. 

Officials wanted to take another run at clarifying sanctuary protections for people who are in the country illegally, a policy that landed the city in national hot water last year when a Mexican man shot and killed a woman walking along a waterfront pier.

The vote updates the Sanctuary City policy that places strict limits on communication by local
law enforcement with federal immigration authorities.

The revised policy allows law enforcement to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials about a criminal suspect only if the suspect is being held on a serious felony and has been convicted of a violent felony in the past seven years, certain types of serious felonies in the past five years or three separate felonies in the past five years.

Supervisor John Avalos introduced the legislation this year following controversy over Kate Steinle's shooting death, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who had been released from custody a short time earlier.

The shooting sparked national criticism of San Francisco's Sanctuary City policies, which are intended to encourage cooperation and trust between police and immigrant communities. Then-Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi came under fire for his decision to release Lopez-Sanchez without notifying federal authorities and current Sheriff Vickie Hennessey, who was then running for office, promised a review of sheriff's department procedures.

The final legislation approved today was the result of lengthy negotiations, and passed with the full support of the board, Hennessey and other city officials.

"What's significant about this legislation is that we're united on it," Avalos said. "That's a better place to be if we're going to uphold a Sanctuary City policy in the face of political pressure."