SF's sanctuary city policy under threat of erosion, some say; board to consider changes

Political leaders are debating the future of San Francisco's sanctuary city policies. Supervisors are debating reaffirming the commitment to sanctuary city while one supervisor is asking to carve out dangerous drug dealers.

On the steps of San Francisco's City Hall supporters of sanctuary city policies rallied against any attempts to chip away at policies barring the city from cooperating with immigration officials. Supervisor Hillary Ronen sponsored a resolution for the board to condemn recent attacks on sanctuary policies, and called out a fellow supervisor. "Supervisor [Matt] Dorsey is seeking to weaken our sanctuary ordinance," said Supervisor Ronen. "We are not going to let him do it. It's cynical, it won't help the problem and it punishes people who are already victims of an unjust system."

Supervisor Matt Dorsey recently introduced new legislation that would add fentanyl dealers to the list of criminals the city would consider cooperating with the federal government to prosecute.

Supervisor Dorsey said since its inception, sanctuary city policies have had carve outs for heinous crimes, and says adding one more crime to the list of carve outs to save lives on San Francisco's streets is worth considering. "If we are going to withdraw the protection of sanctuary from an undocumented immigrant for carjacking or shooting a gun from a car or extortion or burglary in the first degree, it is mystifying to me that we would not include fentanyl dealing in that given the staggering loss of life we're seeing in our city," said Supervisor Dorsey.

San Francisco's District Attorney Brooke Jenkins has also recently sought exemptions to the city's sanctuary policies to cooperate with federal officials and prosecute an accused domestic violence murder and a suspect accused of sexually abusing two children under the age of 10; both suspects having fled the country. The DA said she supports sanctuary polices which were designed to keep the city safer by allowing cooperation between law enforcement and immigrant communities, but "failure to act because of our commitment to the policy will embolden others to flee the country to escape prosecution making our community less safe."       

SEE ALSO: San Francisco D.A. Brooke Jenkins asks for exception to sanctuary city policy

Sanctuary policy supporters say carving out cases will erode those policies. "We're here because sanctuary is under attack and certain politicians are trying to stoke fear and division," said Sarah Lee from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. "Some even trying to collude with the Department of Homeland Security."

The board will now consider the two proposals from Supervisor Ronen and Supervisor Dorsey. Supervisor Dorsey has already said if he can't get the support of his fellow supervisors he's considering taking his ideas directly to the voters.