Police interaction with illegal immigrants in spotlight 

How police handle immigration issues is under thorough review and a rewriting of the rules that govern how officers deal with undocumented immigrants has been proposed.

As reported by The Examiner, it was revealed last month that an undocumented immigrant was handed over to federal authorities after a routine traffic stop in the Ingleside neighborhood. As a result of the incident, police Chief George Gascón has called for training of officers on The City’s sanctuary city policy, which was enacted in 1989 and, with exceptions, bars city employees from using any funds or resources to assist in federal enforcement of immigration law.

The Police Commission has also called for a review, and perhaps partial rewriting, of the policy that guides how police handle immigration issues.

Police stopped a driver June 2 after he failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, according to the police report. The Salvadorian — who his lawyer says has resided in the United States for five years — did not have a driver’s license, but did provide police with his name and date of birth.

A check of the information on the terminal in the patrol car did not find any criminal history, according to police. What may have popped up was a federal immigration warrant that was reportedly issued four years ago after a court hearing about immigration status was missed.

The man was arrested on suspicion of driving without a license, and his warrant information was provided to the Sheriff’s Department, which contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It remains unclear if the police ever contacted the federal agency directly.

The police say that, according to ICE and the Sheriff’s Department, civil immigration warrants — warrants issued not by a judge, but by ICE administrators themselves — do not show up in the databases that police view, according to Capt. David Lazar. Police Commissioners Angela Chan and Jim Hammer asked Lazar to double check whether the administrative warrants are, indeed, showing up in the databases.

The commissioners also called for a careful review of the Police Department’s manual, as it pertains to the Sanctuary City policy.

Gascón said he’s not convinced the policy needs an overhaul but agreed it should be reviewed. He also agreed to produce a bulletin for officers to clarify the policy regarding warrants.

“This is an area that’s very complicated,” he said. “So for our purpose a refresher training is timely and we’ll go ahead and do it.”


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Katie Worth

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