San Francisco lawmakers vote to uphold
sanctuary city policy
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[May 25, 2016]
By Curtis Skinner
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Lawmakers in San
Francisco voted to uphold the "sanctuary city" policy on Tuesday, almost
a year after San Francisco was flung into a national debate about
immigration after an undocumented immigrant was charged in the fatal
shooting of a woman.
The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation that
upholds the city's policy on limiting law enforcement from providing
assistance to federal immigration authorities aiming to apprehend or
The ordinance exempts from protection individuals who are currently
being held on suspicion of committing a felony and were either
convicted of a violent felony in the past seven years or convicted
of a "serious" felony or have three separate convictions of most any
felony in the past five years.
The FREE SF Coalition, a collection of immigrant and minority
activist and legal aid groups, called the ordinance "an important
step forward for San Francisco's immigrant communities."
San Francisco is one of dozens of U.S. cities with sanctuary
policies, which were rooted in shielding Central and Southern
American refugees from deportation in the 1980s.
The decades-old policy came under fire last year after Juan
Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant, was charged with
murder in the apparently random shooting of 32-year-old Kathryn
Steinle as she walked along a popular pier with her father in early
July. Sanchez has pleaded not guilty.
Former San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's department had
released Lopez-Sanchez from jail in April 2015 after a drug charge,
despite a request from federal officials that he be held until they
could pick him up.
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Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump had seized on
the shooting to say that it highlighted the country's problems with
illegal immigration. When announcing his plans to seek the
Republican nomination for president last June, Trump described
immigrants from Mexico to the United States as drug-runners and
A second vote on the city's ordinance is scheduled to be held to
affirm the policy next Tuesday. Mayor Ed Lee, who has previously
supported the policy, will have 10 days to act on the ordinance if
it passes next week.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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