The latest assault on sovereignty and public safety comes from the famously leftist San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, He recently succeeded in getting a bill passed that would permit state counties to ”opt out” of Washington’s Secure Communities program to identify and deport illegal aliens already incarcerated. The San Francisco County Sheriff Michael Hennessey declared his intention in early May to release illegal alien offenders with ”low level” crimes from his jail starting in June, against the Secure Communities policy.
San Francisco famously boycotted Arizona last year because of its state approach to immigration enforcement. But the leftward city and its Assembly representative think it’s fine to defy the principle of federal control over immigration law when it suits them.
Immigration program opt-out OKd by Assembly, San Francisco Chronicle, May 27, 2011
The California Assembly approved a bill Thursday to allow counties to opt out of a federal program to combat illegal immigration that opponents say rips families apart, leads to racial profiling and erodes trust between law enforcement and immigrants.
Under the Secure Communities program, initiated by President Obama, the fingerprints of anyone booked into a county jail are automatically cross-checked against immigration databases. If a person is determined to be undocumented, local authorities hand them over to federal officials for possible deportation.
Several law enforcement authorities and other public officials have criticized the program, saying it jeopardizes relations with immigrant communities and separates people who have not been convicted of crimes from their families. Opponents have cited instances in which illegal immigrants were deported after they were booked on nothing more than traffic violations.
The measure by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, seeks to allow counties to opt out of the program. Two Bay Area counties — San Francisco and Santa Clara — have formally sought permission from the federal government to do so. Several other cities and counties in California have passed resolutions supporting the bill, AB1081, or are considering doing so.
Elsewhere, Illinois has said it will withdraw from the program, and Maryland and Massachusetts are studying whether to do so.
Under Ammiano’s measure, the state would be required to renegotiate its contract with the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division so counties could opt out.
It is not clear how federal officials would react. Last month, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told The Chronicle that local communities cannot opt in or out of Secure Communities.
Nevertheless, Thursday’s 43-22 vote in favor of the measure is a big win for Latino advocates and other supporters, including San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey, who said the federal program violates ”hard-earned trust” between law enforcement and immigrants.
The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration. Gov. Jerry Brown has not said whether he will sign the measure.
During a heated floor debate on the bill Thursday, Republican opponents said supporters were violating their oath of office by refusing to uphold federal immigration laws and accused them of wanting to protect dangerous and violent criminals.
Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, countered that nearly 70 percent of people who have been referred for deportation under the program have either committed minor offenses or have not been charged at all.
He cited the case of Isaura Garcia, a Los Angeles County woman who faced deportation after she reported being physically abused by her boyfriend. Immigration officials eventually suspended the deportation hearings after an outcry, but Alejo said the case ”sent a chilling message across the immigrant community.”
Ammiano called the program a ”farce,” saying it leads to racial profiling.
”There is no shame in protecting people who are vulnerable,” he said. ”Who is it that is cleaning your house but cannot sleep there, who is paying taxes but can’t stay in our country, who is fighting in Afghanistan but is being dehumanized?”
San Francisco case
In speaking against the bill, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks (San Bernardino County), cited the case of Tony Bologna, 48, and his sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16, who were shot to death in San Francisco in June 2008. The alleged gunman, Edwin Ramos, is undocumented and, despite being convicted of two felonies as a juvenile, San Francisco officials did not turn him over to immigration officials.
Donnelly blamed San Francisco’s ”sanctuary city” law for the killings. At the time Ramos committed his juvenile offenses, city officials interpreted the law as barring them from referring underage felons to federal officials for deportation.
”Shame on San Francisco and shame on anyone who would invite and protect dangerous criminals — we’re not talking about ordinary people pulled over for traffic violations,” Donnelly said. ”I would urge a no vote, and I would ask one thing: I would invite you to sit in the living room of (widow) Danielle Bologna, whose family was slaughtered by an illegal alien drug thug who was put back on the street by San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy.”
Ammiano reacted angrily, saying that the Bologna family has specifically asked not be used in the Secure Communities debate and noting that immigration officials were informed of Ramos’ immigration status months before the Bolognas were slain.
”That assailant was reported to ICE and you know what happened? ICE didn’t act because they were probably out busting a crossing guard or a mom on her way to work,” Ammiano said.