DCCC supports sanctuary & due process for all

Pub date March 26, 2009
WriterSarah Phelan
SectionPolitics Blog

The Democratic County Central Committee voted last night by an overwhelming majority (20 ayes, 5 abstains, I no) to support Debra Walker’s strong resolution, recommitting “support of the Constitution and our city’s Sanctuary Ordinance for all,” and rejecting Scott Wiener’s watered-down version (19 noes, 3 abstained, 5 ayes).

Walker, who plans to run for District 6 supervisor, when incumbent Chris Daly is termed out next year, says DCCC’s vote made her, “ feel good about the party.”

“It’s been way too long that this has been happening and we have done nothing substantive, on the part of the party,” said Walker, noting that a companion resolution asking President Barack Obama to stop the ICE raids will be introduced next month.

Last night’s vote came after several dozen immigrant residents attended the DCCC hearing and testified about the impact of San Francisco’s new policies toward immigrants.

As Angela Chan, staff attorney for the Asian Law Caucus told the Guardian, “One teenage girl bravely stood before the DCCC and said that as a result of the change in climate in San Francisco toward immigrants, she lived in fear each day that she would come home to find that her parents had been taken away by ICE. Another immigrant resident said that if the DCCC takes a stand to support immigrants, he would raise his children to become proud Democrats. Another immigrant resident, who was a mother and a child care provider for many families in SF, said it is difficult to know that the image of criminality is being projected onto her and her community, when most members of the community are hardworking, law-abiding, and family-oriented people.”

Chan says she appreciated the supportive comments she heard from Sups. David Campos, Daly, Robert Haaland, Michael Bornstein, and resolution co-sponsors Walker and Peskin.

“They demonstrated a strong commitment to upholding immigrant rights and a deep understanding of the contributions of immigrant residents to San Francisco,” Chan said. “I hope Mayor Newsom will take the cue from his own party (and his own residents), and swiftly move to rescind his undocumented youth policy and work with the immigrant community to develop a more thought-out and balanced policy that respects the due process rights of youth and the goals to the juvenile justice system.”

That vote confirms that Mayor Gavin Newsom’s decision to do an about face last summer on San Francisco’s long standing sanctuary city ordinance is coming back to haunt him, as the gubernatorial race heats up.

Asked if the policy direction that Newsom ordered in 2008 guarantees due process for all, Newsom’s communications director Nathan Ballard did a classic obfuscation, telling the Guardian, “Yes. It was thoroughly vetted by the city attorney.”

But according to the City Attorney’s office, the original ordinance never did assure due process, “ if an individual was arrested for felony crimes.”

As for the revised policy direction, it directs police officers to report any juvenile “suspected of being present in the United States in violation of immigration laws,” and “booked” for commission of a felony” to federal immigration authorities,

The language, which is contained in the juvenile probation department’s policies and procedures section, directs officers to take into consideration, amongst other things, prior criminal history and “presence of undocumented persons in the same area where arrested or involved in illegal activity.”

To Walker’s mind, such direction amounts to a, “slippery slope.”

“It puts a lot of discretion in the hands of the police on the streets, and can end up with juveniles being referred to ICE and taken back to their country of origin, without any representation,” Walker said.