… plus Uber and traffic, and a bill that would help public power by making PG&E’s fossil-fuel and nuclear mix more expensive
By Tim Redmond
JULY 6, 2015 – I came back from Lake Shasta to the news of a terrible, senseless murder – and anti-immigrant advocates attempting to use if for political gain.
The story is just awful: Francisco Sanchez, who had a felony record and had been deported five times, shot and killed 32-year-old Kate Steinle on Pier 14. He had recently been released from the San Francisco county jail.
So the Chron yesterday ran a story suggesting that this will become a political issue for Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, Attorney General Kamala Harris – and Tom Ammiano, who isn’t at this point running for anything.
The “critics” in the story are all conservatives and Republicans who hate the idea that San Francisco doesn’t automatically turn over to federal immigration authorities anyone who is in the country without documents.
The story by Carla Marinucci quotes Donald Trump (who is an embarrassment), and a Republican candidate for Senate, and a right-wing think tank in DC. Not surprisingly, all of them said Sanchez should have been deported and that Democrats, California, and San Francisco are too easy on immigrants.
Not one person who was quoted said anything about how a guy with a felony record got a pistol. Not one comment about how this kind of tragedy doesn’t happen very often in countries that strictly control handguns.
No: It’s all the fault of liberals who allow undocumented people who aren’t facing criminal charges to stay out of jail.
The story seems a bit, well, trumped up. Notice that Sup. Scott Wiener, who is running for state Senate, didn’t criticize Ammiano (who might run against him but hasn’t decided yet) for sponsoring the legislation that allows local authorities not to cooperate automatically with ICE hold requests. Wiener voted in favor of an even stronger policy in San Francisco. Mayor Ed Lee is trying to duck this whole thing, but he supported the law that allowed the sheriff to deny ICE requests, too.
I haven’t heard from Vicky Hennessy, who is running against Mirkarimi, but she has never publicly opposed that policy.
There are very good reasons why local police and sheriffs can decline ICE requests. If immigrants think that any time they interact with the authorities they risk deportation, then they avoid the authorities –even when they are crime victims or witnesses or have information that would help solve crimes.
And the idea that deporting Sanchez would have solved the problem is a bit dubious: He’s been deported five times before. He always managed to get back.
Mirkarimi’s office issued a pretty good statement:
Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez was booked into the San Francisco County Jail from federal prison on a local drug-related warrant on March 26, 2015. On March 27, 2015, Mr. Lopez-Sanchez was in San Francisco Superior Court on local charges which were dismissed by the court. SFSD began confirming that Mr. Lopez-Sanchez’s federal prison time had been completed. At the time Mr. Lopez-Sanchez was booked, federal transportation orders reflected two conflicting release dates. SFSD verified that Mr. Lopez-Sanchez completed his federal prison sentence and was lawfully released from federal prison March 26, 2015. Once the SFSD confirmed that Mr. Lopez-Sanchez’s federal prison time had been completed and that he had no active warrants, he was released from San Francisco County Jail on April 15, 2015.
When Mr. Lopez-Sanchez was booked into the jail, there was no active Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warrant or judicial order of removal for him. There was an ICE request for his detention. Once Mr. Lopez-Sanchez’s local criminal charges were dismissed, San Francisco Ordinance 130764, approved by the Board of Supervisors and signed by Mayor Ed Lee in October 2013, deemed him ineligible for extended detention. This also comports with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department Policy on immigration detainers.
While over 300 municipalities throughout the state and country, including the City and County of San Francisco, have amended their policies regarding ICE detainers, ICE has not changed its policies or procedures to reflect that detainers are requests and not a legal basis to hold an individual. Courts including the Oregon Federal District Court in Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County (No. 3:12-cv-02317-ST) have ruled accordingly. In instances where a warrant or court order is obtained, individuals would be returned to ICE for deportation proceedings.
Ammiano issued a statement, too:
It’s unbearably sad that this newcomer to San Francisco should have died in a violent act of the sort that has become mind-numbingly common in our country. She should’ve found an eager welcome, because that’s what our city is about. Those who try to use this senseless act for political gain should be ashamed. Of course it is human nature to try to find meaning in every turn of chance, whether it is a cause for celebration or, like this, a cause for mourning. But those who try to find meaning in this tragedy by blaming San Francisco officials or immigration law are either betraying their misunderstanding of the law or their wrongheaded political opportunism. It is my understanding that immigration officials could have detained the alleged perpetrator for deportation. That is their job. But too often in the past, those same officials wanted to use local jails to hold Californians for minor infractions, or without even having a criminal case. The TRUST Act put a stop to those official abuses, but never gave a free pass to people who commit gun violence like this. My heart goes out to the family of Katy Steinle.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice/Asian Law Caucus puts it this way:
“We express our deepest condolences to the family of Ms. Kate Steinle. The murder of Ms. Steinle was a senseless, tragic act of violence which we deeply condemn, and our hearts go out to her loved ones.
In response to discussion in the media that the individual accused of this tragic murder, Francisco Sanchez, was not held by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), we would to clarify that ICE hold requests are in fact unconstitutional.
ICE hold requests are requests sent to local jails to hold individuals for additional time beyond when the person would otherwise be released in the criminal matter. Federal courts, including the Oregon federal district court in Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County., have held that ICE holds are not only voluntary, but that the detention of individuals based on ICE hold requests violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure. ICE holds violate the Constitution because they are not signed by a judge and are not based on a finding of probable cause. Rather, they are issued by only ICE agents, and have been issued on individuals who are not actually removable.
Over 320 jurisdictions throughout the country, including almost all California’s counties, have adopted policies limiting or ending responses to all ICE holds. San Francisco’s Sanctuary Ordinance, the Due Process for All Ordinance, and the Sheriff’s Department’s policies are merely complying with Fourth Amendment Constitutional protections.
Furthermore, policies that separate local law enforcement from ICE are key tools toward improving community confidence in law enforcement and thus making us all safer. In fact, the President’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing has recommended that local law enforcement not be entangled with immigration enforcement because this undermines trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement, deterring immigrant victims and witnesses of crime from coming forward. Moreover, collaboration with ICE can lead local law enforcement to engaging in racial profiling and pretextual arrests.
In addition, as a civil rights organization that advances and protects the rights of communities of color, we also would like to emphasize that the actions of one person should not be used to stereotype or criminalize entire communities which are part of the fabric of our city and state. We ask that commentators about this horrible tragedy take care in not blaming all immigrants or all undocumented immigrants for the actions of one accused person.”
I called Sup. John Avalos, who authored the San Francisco law discouraging the local police and sheriff from cooperating with ICE on deportations. The measure passed unanimously. “At the signing ceremony, we had all 11 supervisors, the mayor, and Police Chief Greg Suhr,” he said. “We were all in support.”
At the time, the mayor said:
“Thousands of our members of our limited English communities–in fact all of our (immigrant) communities–do live in constant fear of deportation. And they have distrusted our law enforcement officials even when they are victims of violent crime.”So here’s the message I would like to send by signing this ordinance–and I’m speaking in particular to our immigrant communities–that it is safe, absolutely safe, to call our police if you are a victim or witness to a crime.
“I am proud to be signing this ordinance with all of you in the room today.”
Chief Suhr was a supporter of Ammiano’s bill as well as the final Avalos measure:
I was the first police chief in the state to support Assemblyman Tom Ammiano‘s Trust Act – vital legislation that prevents low-level offenders from being deported while preserving local law enforcement’s discretion to protect the public. It’s the right policy, and I’m proud to support it.
District Attorney George Gascon, a former police chief, took the same approach:
Responsible law enforcement officials should resist playing a role in this ill-conceived process. While immigration holds occasionally may result in the deportation of a violent offender, they do so at the expense of public safety, the trust and effectiveness of law enforcement and our constitutionally guaranteed right to due process.
The shooting, Avalos told me, “was just awful, and I really feel for the family. But you don’t use one incident to judge the whole community of immigrants.”
And I could say to the Chron: A little perspective here, please.
I also read, in the Chronicle column of lobbyist Willie Brown, that the fire chief is angry about traffic:
Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White plopped herself down next to me at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce luncheon the other day and launched into a description of how it had taken her 40 minutes to make it from her headquarters near AT&T Park to Chinatown. She was livid.
It may get even worse if the city follows through with plans to cut down car lanes on Second Street to create more space for bikes. I hate to think how that might affect her firefighters.
Perhaps the Municipal Transportation Agency should try it on an experimental basis before making the change permanent.
Now: The firefighters who are on the way to an emergency have sirens and lights, and get to cut through traffic. But here’s an element that I don’t think anyone is talking about:
The tech boom has added massive amounts of traffic to the city streets, and some of that is because of Uber. The ride-share company that cares nothing for local laws has 15,000 drivers in San Francisco – and I can tell you from personal experience riding my bike around the city that many of them are in new cars that they bought for the job. Many of them also (unlike cab drivers) have no clue how to get around the city and rely on GPS apps – which require them to look away from where they are going to check out a cell phone mounted near the dash. They block traffic at lights because they are looking at the phone. They make wrong turns. They sometimes pull over into the bike lanes to figure out where the hell they are.
San Francisco already has too many cars. And while Uber says that the “sharing economy” is reducing the number of cars because people will take Uber instead of buying a vehicle, I (again from personal experience) am seeing the opposite: At least when it comes to high school kids (and I have one), they take Uber instead of Muni.
So more cars are on the streets that people are using instead of public transportation, and that traffic is making everyone’s life worse – and Willie Brown blames bicycles, which are actually a real solution to traffic.
Avalos has a fascinating piece of legislation that has received zero news media attention. It comes up at the Budget and Finance Committee meeting Monday/6, but may be continued with the aim of getting it on the 2016 ballot.
Here’s the deal:
The city has a relatively modest tax (7.5 percent) on commercial utility users.
PG&E’s allies are running a scam and doing everything else possible to undermine the public-power option of CleanPowerSF.
That automatically makes PG&E’s power more expensive compared to the city option.
And the money would go to fund
Programs administered by the Mayor’s Office of Housing for the development of affordable housing in areas well served by public transit that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing vehicle miles travelled;
Programs administered by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for the development or acquisition of renewable energy resources in San Francisco or on real property owned or leased by the City;
Energy efficiency projects administered by the Department of the Environment that would benefit disadvantaged residents and small business owners; and/or
Urban forest projects administered by the Department of the Environment or the Department of Public Works that would increase carbon sequestration through tree planting and maintenance.
You need a two-thirds vote to pass this kind of tax, and Avalos isn’t sure that November 2015 is the best election for it. But he’s going forward with the hearing to get a sense of community support. It may wind up being continued and turning into a measure for 2016.