Will Feds' Move Gut S.F. Sanctuary City Policy?

An overarching federally mandated program will take decisions about who to report -- or not report -- to immigration authorities out of local officials' hands, the Chronicle reports.

In June, San Francisco's County Jail will begin using the Secure Communities initiative -- a program the Department of Homeland Security describes as a move to "improve public safety by implementing a comprehensive, integrated approach to identify and remove criminal aliens from the United States." The program links state justice departments' fingerprint databases to one maintained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).

That automation pulls the rug out from under the city's 21-year-old sanctuary policy, in which only felony suspects of indeterminate legal status were reported. Now everyone coming through the jail will have his or her information run through the system, regardless of the severity of the alleged crime that brought them there.

That sounds ominous -- but for anyone concerned that a modern-day Jean Valjean might be deported for attempting to purloin a loaf of bread, the director of the Secure Communities program offers his word of assurance:

David Venturella told the Chron that his program is simply there to ferret through the records of suspected criminals who have had a brush with the law -- no more and no less.

Today's Valjeans, picked up for blowing a stop sign or pissing on a tree, need not worry, he continued. He doesn't have the staff to harass small fry and would prefer to focus on serious criminals.

As a stop-sign blower or tree-pisser incarcerated in the county jail might say, Creeré cuando lo vea -- I'll believe it when I see it.

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