San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has ordered a review of Sheriff Michael Hennessey’s new policy to let illegal immigrants who have committed low-level, nonviolent crimes free even if federal officials have requested them to be held.
Hennessey met with Lee Friday afternoon to explain in greater detail the new policy, which is set to go into effect June 1.
As it stands now, sheriff’s deputies hold low-level criminals until U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement picks them up. Once the new policy takes effect, however, sheriff’s deputies will release them from jail with a citation just as they would a U.S. citizen, even with an ICE hold.
Because Hennessey believed that it was not required by law to comply with those ICE holds, he felt that he needed to comply with San Francisco’s sanctuary ordinance instead, Lee said Friday.
“There’s some confusion about that and we’re trying to get clarity,” Lee said.
Asked how Lee himself felt about giving illegal immigrants a break, the mayor said that if it was legal, he would agree with Hennessey and comply with The City’s sanctuary ordinance rather than cooperate with federal immigration officials.
“I think that if the federal authorities are telling us that it’s up to us to make that decision, then we’re going to make decisions according to our laws,” Lee said. “But if they’re saying, on the one hand, that it’s not, that you can’t opt out and there’s no choice on your part, then we don’t have a choice not to comply.”