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SF fights to protect sanctuary city status

SF fights to protect sanctuary city status

City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a federal lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s executive order directing enforcement action and threatening to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities. Courtesy: City Attorney’s Office

San Francisco became the first city to legally challenge Donald Trump’s executive order demanding “sanctuary cities” to abandon their sanctuary policies or face losing federal funding.

The lawsuit, which is the first of its kind, was filed in federal court on Jan. 31 by City Attorney Dennis Herrera. It stated that the “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” order violates the 10th amendment and is “a severe invasion of San Francisco’s sovereignty.”

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Trump’s order bolsters immigration law enforcement and punishes local government for not complying with the federal government’s immigration policy.

“The misguided executive order makes our cities less safe, and we believe, is unconstitutional,” Mayor Ed Lee said the day the suit was filed.

San Francisco is one about 200 sanctuary cities in 32 states, according to the Center of Immigration Studies.

“This is a city that does not like to be bullied,” said Bill Hing, director of the Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic at University of San Francisco’s School of Law.

San Francisco annually receives $1.2 billion in federal funds, which is approximately 13 percent of its budget. Federal funding cuts would threaten social programs that serve residents—documented and undocumented.

Immigration advocates and members of the community gather on the steps of City Hall Nov. 29, 2016 for a “sanctuary city” press conference to discuss how to respond to anti-immigrant legislation that will likely be brought by the Trump administration. Photo: Jessica Webb

San Francisco established its sanctuary city status in 1989, in large part due to many refugees seeking asylum from Central American countries that were reeling from civil war.

Last amended in July 2016, San Francisco’s Sanctuary City ordinance encompasses two chapters of its administrative code, which protects immigrants from being detained and deported, and applies to juveniles.

The ordinance also forbids San Francisco law enforcement officials from disclosing any information about an immigrant’s whereabouts to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Less than a week after Trump was sworn into office, ICE agents were the Mission District allegedly looking for two individuals, but no one was detained.

Former District 9 Supervisor David Campos, deemed ICE’s visit to the Mission highly unusual, but other people were not as surprised.

“These pick ups and these raids do happen,” said Sandy Valenciano, a member of the California Immigration Youth Justice Alliance. “Unfortunately it’s [often] at a time [of day] where the community doesn’t see it happen.”

Valenciano, who was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, immigrated to the United States nearly a decade after San Francisco became a sanctuary city.

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Valenciano is concerned with making sure that local law enforcement doesn’t share information with federal agents. She is encouraged, however, by the waves of protests throughout the nation since Trump tool office.

“There is some ease in the community,” Valenciano said. “Hopefully more sanctuary cities will take the leadership to file the lawsuit.”

On Feb.1, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) broke its 10-year relationship with the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

“We will continue to cooperate with our federal authorities,” Herrera said in a statement. “But in a manner that respects state’s rights and our Constitution.

Hing predicts the the lawsuit will last approximately four years.

“I think it has a very good chance of success,” Hing said. “The federal government cannot force violations of the Constitution.”

Though well known for his impulsive tweeting, Trump has not yet directly commented about San Francisco’s lawsuit.

Story by: Cassie Ordonio

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