San Francisco considers greater protections for immigrants

Officials in San Francisco are planning to have another attempt to clarify the protections the pro-immigrant city has in place toward undocumented immigrants, policies that led to criticism from all over the United States in 2015 when a woman walking on a waterfront pier was shot and killed by an undocumented Mexican immigrant.

The Board of Supervisors is to consider a new proposal suggesting that criminal suspects can only be turned over to federal immigration authorities by law enforcement if they are both charged with a violent offence and have already received a conviction for one over the course of the last seven years. However, the limitation has been resisted by the Sheriff of San Francisco Vicki Hennessey, who says she wants to be allowed more discretion over a relatively small number of detainees. Hennessey does not have to follow orders from the board as she is a constitutionally elected official.

The chief sponsor of the measure, Supervisor John Avalos, had earlier in May postponed a vote by the board on the ordinance while different sides were attempting to find a compromise, but says he is now prepared to vote regardless.

The sides are still discussing the issue, according to Hennessy’s chief of staff Eileen Hirst. Those who advocate sanctuary protections believe that there needs to be a clear division between federal immigration authorities and local law enforcement in order to foster trust. They were, however, put on the defensive by the killing of Kate Steinle by undocumented immigrant and habitual border crosser Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez last year.