Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sanctuary City No More?

In late 2009 we reported about the debate on reporting undocumented immigrants in San Francisco, and about the subsequent passage of a San Francisco city ordinance that would disallow the usage of city resources to report undocumented immigrants to the feds, including juvenile delinquents. It seems that this city policy has now been rendered irrelevant by a new governmental automated reporting system. The Chron reports:

Starting next month, the San Francisco County Jail must begin participating in an automated reporting system set up by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The program, Secure Communities, automatically links the fingerprint databases of state justice departments with a database used by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, known as ICE.

As part of San Francisco's 1989 sanctuary city policy, officials only report felony suspects whose legal status can't be readily confirmed upon booking to federal officials. The new program would end that discretionary practice because all digital fingerprints will automatically be forwarded to the state Department of Justice and on to federal immigration authorities for review.

"Essentially, this guts San Francisco's sanctuary ordinance in terms of criminal justice," San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey told The Chronicle on Wednesday.

This change in practices, however, still keeps California well behind Arizona, in which confirmation of immigration status can be made not by database comparison after official booking, but based on simple profiling by police in the street.

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