The way it is now, Federal authorities persecute undocumented immigrants in horrific and inhumane ways (ankle bracelets, subjecting minors to secret trials without representation, to say nothing of trying to capture and deport them). As much as possible, the Feds try to delegate the incarceration of immigrants to local police. Such is the nature of the “Secure Communities” program, in which local police departments supply information collected on those they have arrested to the ICE, receiving money and military grade weaponry and vehicles in order to carry out these tasks (please see A Self-Policing District).
Of course, as a matter of policy, San Francisco is supposed to be a “sanctuary city”—a city where local authorities are instructed by ordinance not to cooperate with the Feds by letting them know who they have captured, what these people have been arrested for, and—importantly—when they will be released. In practice, local police and sheriffs continue to collaborate with the ICE, aggressively looking for loopholes that the Board of Supervisors must periodically close. (This is yet another way that SFPD and the Sheriffs’ Department do not act as employees of the people of San Francisco, preferring to do the ICE’s dirty work free from accountability to elected officials, let alone the people they are supposedly sworn to “protect and serve”.) Furthermore, the local ordinances are subordinated to Federal laws, meaning that the local authorities can only refuse to cooperate in areas where State and Federal authorities have not specified their areas of control. The fact that local ordinances are subject to State and Federal law means that undocumented immigrants seeking refuge in San Francisco cannot access medical services or receive assistance for buying food. In other words, for undocumented immigrants to be welcome in San Francisco means that they are welcome to starve and tough it out if they are injured or become ill. This is a very weak basis for a claim of “sanctuary.”
In order for San Francisco to fulfill its promise of sanctuary, these loopholes need to be closed. Furthermore, the problem of immigration reform is one that cannot be solved in one U.S. city. San Francisco must not only make the most airtight legislation possible against Federal persecution of undocumented immigrants within its borders, but also take the lead in building the movement to guarantee full, equal civil rights to all who reside in the U.S., regardless of their immigration status.
Our guiding principle and ultimate goal is a full, unconditional amnesty for all undocumented immigrants. Our proposals include:
- Mandating that law enforcement refuse to assist the ICE in finding, capturing, and deporting immigrants. Federal funds collected for this purpose should be channeled into services, and future funds should be refused.
- Guaranteeing all undocumented immigrants the same access to food, shelter, clothing, health care, and educational services of any other resident of the City. In the many instances where
- Federal and State agencies deny services to undocumented immigrants, the City will endeavor to provide them with funds taken from the police and sheriffs, as well as taxes levied on big businesses for this purpose (please see A Point on Financing).
- Every effort should be made to provide the children of immigrants with education services in their native languages as well as comprehensive courses in English as a Second Language.
- Granting full political rights to all non-citizen residents of San Francisco, meaning that in addition to the right to the services mentioned above, all non-citizens should have the right to vote and run for office in all local elections.
- Instructing the City Attorney to provide legal support to bring family members of undocumented immigrants to San Francisco, uniting families separated by U.S. immigration policy.
- Instructing the City Attorney to challenge the legality of the Federal Priority Enforcement Program on the grounds that it violates due process and uses deportation as a form of punishment for crimes for which prison sentences have already been served, and in most cases many years in the past.
- Not one more deportation or family separated. Full protection for refugee children fleeing violence in their countries of origin.