Immigration Activists Set to Rally Downtown Tomorrow

Categories: Immigration
Jerry Brown Portrait.jpg
Jerry, we have a complaint!
Buoyed by a federal judge's decision to block the "papers please" components of the Arizona immigration law that goes into effect tomorrow, San Francisco activists and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano are now turning their wrath on California Attorney General Jerry Brown.

At a press conference planned outside the State Building on Thursday morning, they will pressure him to let the city opt out of the federal program to check the immigration status of potential illegal immigrants known as Secure Communities.

Expect Supes David Campos and Eric Mar as well. And expect Brown's office to say what it said before: Sorry. Follow the law like everyone else.

The protest is planned for the same day the Arizona law will go into effect, since activists say Secure Communities (insiders just call it "S-Comm") involves local law enforcement in federal immigration matters just as the Arizona law does.

"S-Comm will have very similar impacts to the Arizona law, leading to racial profiling and intense collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration," says Renee Saucedo of La Raza Centro Legal.

Under S-Comm, which went into effect in San Francisco last month, all fingerprints taken at county jail are run through the state's Department of Justice database, which then checks the prints with the Department of Homeland Security to identify potential illegal immigrants.

In the weeks before the program was to launch for San Francisco, Sheriff Michael Hennessey asked Brown to be able to opt out, arguing that it was a violation of the city's sanctuary ordinance. (The sanctuary city ordinance already allows law enforcement to report those booked on felonies; S-Comm checks the fingerprints of anyone booked for any crime.) Brown -- running for governor against a Republican all too happy to refer to his "Governor Moonbeam" days -- said no.

As was covered in an excellent investigative piece at Salon.com earlier this month, the feds' stance on the ability for cities to opt out of S-Comm has been inconsistent. San Francisco Police Commissioner Angela Chan says the city should be able to opt out.

"There were federal officials that did receive assurances from S-Comm officials that local communities can opt out when they were seeking funding," Chan says. She refers to the assurances made to assure legislators they would not have to provide money for local counties to enact the ordinance -- since the program requires local jurisdictions to jail inmates while waiting for immigration officials to come pick them up.

If cities can't opt out, "it would be an unfunded federal mandate," Chan says. "At the federal and state level you can't force any county to do anything without giving them the money to do it. That's why it's good for S-Comm officials to say they'lll let [local jurisdictions] opt out when looking for funding."

The press conference is set for 11 a.m. Thursday at 455 Golden Gate Avenue. 

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