Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SF Changes Policy on Immigrant Youth Offenders, Mayor's Policy Rejected

In the latest round arising from a blow-up last year over some Honduran youths charged with drug dealing that San Francisco did not report to federal immigration authorities, Jesse McKinley of the N.Y. Times (see also the S.F. Chronicle report) reports that the San Francisco board of supervisors voted Tuesday to overturn a city policy ordered by Mayor (and candidate for Governor) Gavin Newsom last summer, which requires the police to contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when they arrest a juvenile on felony charges who they suspect is undocumented. Under the policy, an estimated 100 undocumented minors have been turned over to federal immigration authorities.  Under the policy as changed by the S.F. board of supervisors, referrals would be required only after juveniles were convicted of crimes, not merely upon arrest. "Immigration advocates say that referrals upon arrest have resulted in the deportation of innocent youths, the breakup of families, and a fear among immigrants of contacting the police when they are the victims of crime."

ImmigrationProf blogger Bill Hing and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center worked diligently to ensure that the Board of Supervisors approved this new change in policy.

UPDATE:  For a N.Y. Times blog posting on the new law, including comments from Professors Rose Villazor (Hofstra) and Pratheepan Gulasekaram (Santa Clara), click here.  I think that Professor Gulasekaram has the better of the argument as it applies to the new SF policy, which does not involve enforcement of the immigration laws by local authorities (like the Hazelton ordinace, for example) but only whether to report a youth offender to the federal immigration authorities upon arrest or conviction. 


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