About 29 undocumented immigrants arrested in San Francisco have been turned over to federal authorities during the first nine days of the Secure Communities program, which forces The City to hand over the fingerprints of every person arrested here to immigration officials.
Neither Immigration and Customs Enforcement nor the Sheriff’s Department could say whether any of those detained had been arrested on misdemeanors.
According to the Sheriff’s Department, in the same period last year, 30 people were detained by immigration officials. Those people were detained under the old policy, which only required The City to report foreign-born residents to immigration officials if they’d been arrested on a felony charge.
Though the number is basically the same, Sheriff Mike Hennessey said this comparison does not provide the whole picture, because about 25 percent fewer people are being booked this year compared to last, due to The City’s crime lab scandal. If the pool were the same as it was last year, the number of detentions this year might have been higher.
The program effectively guts the Sanctuary City ordinance, which allowed the Sheriff’s Department to not turn over people to immigration if they were arrested on a minor infraction. Hennessey worries the new policy will deter immigrants without documents from reporting crimes to local law enforcement, because they will fear being fingerprinted and perhaps deported.
Hennessey sought to opt out of the program, but California Attorney General Jerry Brown said The City did not have that option.
The program went into effect in San Francisco on June 8. ICE officials said in the nine days after it was implemented, the program identified 29 undocumented immigrants, 22 of whom had prior felony convictions, and 15 of whom had previously been removed from the United States. It’s unclear whether the remaining seven had any prior criminal history.
Those 29 were culled from 694 sets of fingerprints taken by the Sheriff’s Department in that period — most of whom were U.S. citizens, the Sheriff’s Department reported.
In the same period last year, the Sheriff’s Department notified ICE of 43 foreign-born people arrested on felonies, and ICE detained 30 people.