San Francisco and California Move to Ignore Secure Communities, Release Criminal Immigrants Back Into America

As exemplars of the most extreme anti-American, anti-sovereignty leftism, San Francisco loves to poke normal citizens in the eye whenever possible. City leaders take pleasure in being the non-America outpost on the edge of the continent and would secede if not for all the federal cash it receives.

The state is headed in the same direction, given the super-majority of Democrats and complete disappearance of any Republican presence in the capitol. So Democrats feel free to enact their most outlandish left-wing fantasies.

One of the long-time targets of liberal state pols has been the federal Secure Communities, a common-sense program where the immigration status of arrested persons is checked along with their previous criminal history using a federal database. Deporting them removes dangerous persons from the country.

Proponents of the new proposal says it will still snag violent felons, but the urge toward permissiveness among California libs is not receding.

The upshot is that public safety is not a Democrat value, so the state is close to officially ignoring Secure Communities.

S.F., state near protections for some immigrants, San Francisco Chronicle, September 20, 2013

Sonia Cauich is not the kind of person federal authorities are looking to deport under the immigrant-crackdown Secure Communities program. But she’s exactly the kind of person who could trigger big changes in the program.

Cauich, 41, was almost sent back to Mexico two years ago when she was arrested by San Francisco police after calling 911 to report that her cousin was beating his wife and had hit her as well. He had disappeared by the time police arrived, but they ended up taking Cauich, who was undocumented, into custody.

A victim of domestic violence herself, Cauich says she was taken away from her sons – 6 months, 3 years and 10 years old – and held in County Jail for three days before being transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and nearly deported.

She has since left her abusive husband and gotten a visa. But her children say they are terrified of the police.

“When the kids see the police, they are traumatized,” she said through an interpreter. “It was impactful for them – they don’t forget. … I tell my oldest, ‘If anything happens, you call the police.’ He says, ‘No, what if they take you?’ ”

Legislative push
Supporters of changes to immigration policy are holding up stories like Cauich’s as telling examples as they work to pass legislation across the nation to buck the federal Secure Communities program. That program asks sheriffs to keep immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally, but who are otherwise cleared for release, behind bars until federal authorities can pick them up for deportation.

Critics of the program are looking at two victories in California, where legislation rejecting the program statewide and in San Francisco are on the verge of becoming law.

But neither proposal goes far enough for some critics, who want to make it illegal for California authorities to participate in the program at all. But the measures, sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, in Sacramento and Supervisor John Avalos in San Francisco, would severely limit whom sheriff’s departments can keep in custody purely for a suspected immigration violation.

Both make exceptions for people previously convicted of serious or violent felonies. Ammiano’s statewide proposal, known as the TRUST Act, is on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk and would exempt far fewer people than the San Francisco proposal, which will be up for a vote on Tuesday.

Brown vetoed a similar measure last year, saying more crimes needed to be included in the list of serious or violent felonies. Supporters are hopeful that he will sign this year’s measure, which took into account his concerns.

“It’s certainly nationally significant,” said Melissa Keaney, a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, who noted that Connecticut this year passed a similar law, and numerous cities and counties – including Santa Clara – already prohibit local police from cooperating with the immigration holds.

California is home to 10 million immigrants – one-quarter of the nation’s foreign-born population – and accounts for about 35 percent of the 280,000 deportations made under Secure Communities since 2008.

Sending messages
“I think it certainly sends a message to the feds … they don’t want to see this in California,” said Keaney. “It also sends a message to law enforcement … and to the immigrant community, that they can come forward as victims or witnesses of crimes and be sure that it won’t lead into the dragnet of deportation.”

Still, she and others contend that the statewide law “sets a floor,” which is why in San Francisco the fight has focused on whether there should be any exceptions.

The law initially proposed by Avalos – and backed by a veto-proof majority of his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors – would have made it illegal for San Francisco law enforcement officials to detain for federal officials anyone solely on the basis of their immigration status. But after pushback from Police Chief Greg Suhr and Mayor Ed Lee, some of Avalos’ supporters pulled back and negotiated a series of amendments that will be considered Tuesday.

Under that compromise, the Sheriff’s Department will be allowed to hand over some criminal suspects to federal immigration authorities, if those suspects have been convicted of a serious or violent felony in the past and are being charged with a new one.

D.A. concerned
District Attorney George Gascón, who supported the original legislation, said he is concerned that the changes “make this a much more complex piece of legislation than it was intended to be,” and could confuse the very community it is seeking to put at ease.

“I’m not opposed to the amendments – I recognize the complexity of the legislative process and I understand the process of compromise,” said Gascón, a former police chief. “I would be very concerned about unintended consequences, that victims of domestic violence or other crimes would still fear that they could be deported. … I think if the board passes this and the mayor signs it, I hope there will also be a commitment to public education.”

Suhr said he is happy with the changes and hopeful that the proposal will pass unanimously – so that women such as Cauich, who testified two weeks ago before the Board of Supervisors in favor of Avalos’ proposal, will not live in fear.

“Not one of the women who spoke will go unprotected by this ordinance with the amendments,” he said. “This will close some potential loopholes, and make sure what happened to them will never happen again.”