San Francisco changes policy on reporting juveniles to ICE after felony charges 

San Francisco has stopped reporting undocumented youth arrested on suspicion of felonies to the federal government for possible deportation if they have family in The City, Mayor Ed Lee announced during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

The change in The City’s policy on how it handles illegal immigrant youth caught up in the juvenile justice system is the latest development in one of the biggest political fights of recent years.

Former Mayor Gavin Newsom changed the policy nearly three years ago after media reports revealed The City had been shielding from deportation undocumented youths convicted of felonies. Since then, the Juvenile Probation Department’s policy has been to notify US Immigration and Customs Enforcement of undocumented youth arrested on suspicion of having committed a felony.

But Lee has changed the policy to prohibit the reporting of illegal youths if they live with a “parent, guardian or blood relative in the immediate Bay Area and [are] enrolled in school,” according to a May 9 memo from Chief Juvenile Probation Officer William Siffermann. These youth will now only be reported upon a felony conviction or an arrest on an outstanding warrant. The policy change went into effect Monday.

Lee said he made the alteration after discussing the issue with immigration advocates and others over the past few months. Speaking of his long-standing support of “all kinds of families,” Lee said the change balances “public safety and due process,” and that it is also “compliant with federal, state law.”

The announcement comes amid mounting pressure for The City to adhere to a 2009 ordinance authored by Supervisor David Campos, and adopted by the Board of Supervisors. Newsom refused to implement the city law, which he suggested illegally conflicted with federal immigration law. Campos’ law prohibits The City from reporting all illegal youth until after they have their day in court and are found guilty.

Campos welcomed the policy change, but said it doesn’t go far enough. “As much as we appreciate that step being taken, we still will not have full compliance with a law that was duly enacted by this Board of Supervisors,” Campos said. “Full compliance with the law that we enacted means giving every child due process.”

“We once again ask the mayor of San Francisco to comply with full implementation,” Campos said. “I ask the mayor to reconsider his position.”

The City’s immigration policies are guided by the 1989 Sanctuary City Ordinance, which is meant to foster an environment in which illegal immigrants feel safe to report crimes, access city services and engage in local government without fear of deportation.

The policy change “aligns our departmental practices more closely with the values inherent within San Francisco’s Sanctuary City Ordinance, without compromising our balanced commitment to public safety and the best interests of the minor,” Siffermann wrote in the memo.

Sanctuary city ruling

Mayor Ed Lee has changed the Juvenile Probation Department’s policy on undocumented youth.

The department will no longer notify federal authorities of undocumented youths booked on felonies if they:

  • Live with a parent, guardian or blood relative in the immediate Bay Area
  • Are enrolled in school

Federal authorities will be notified of youths meeting this criteria if:

  • There is a felony adjudication
  • They are apprehended on an outstanding warrant
  • There is issuance of a new warrant following release from custody pending adjudication 

Source: Juvenile Probation Department

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