San Francisco says no to controversial federal program Secure Communities

Translated text of the interview – to watch the interview in Spanish, clink on the link above “Univision national evening news”.

Jorge Ramos: San Francisco is going to add itself very soon to a list of cities like Chicago and Washington, DC, that do not cooperate with a controversial federal immigration program.

Today the supervisors introduced a law that is going to prohibit the sheriff (of San Francisco) from participating in the Secure Communities program. This is the program that sends fingerprints of detained people to ICE. Luis Megid tells us why they don’t want the sheriff to have anything to do with immigration issues.

Luis Megid: Every time that the police detains someone, the fingerprints are sent to immigration. Under Secure Communities, immigration can ask that the person stay detained so they can go look for them.  But in San Francisco, many think this isn’t fair.

Carolina: What we want is for the city to restore due process for all. That we can maintain a separation between the criminal system and the immigration system.

Supervisor John Avalos agrees, and with the almost unanimous support of his colleagues, he introduced today an ordinance to prohibit the city from cooperating with immigration.

Avalos: So we need to make a higher level standard, to protect the people who are involved in our justice system.

Luis: In SF, almost 800 undocumented people were deported by the program in the last two years. Many were not criminals, including Sonia Cahuich, who was nearly deported.

Sonia: I was telling them, I didn’t do anything!

Luis: She only called police because she got beat up at home. But instead of helping her, police detained her, and through Secure Communities, they turned her over to ICE.

Sonia: They put me in the uniform .. the orange uniform, and I said, I am not going to [be able] to go back to my home anymore, and why?

Luis: San Francisco has already taken steps to limit the application of Secure Communities. Today, the Sheriff can only keep undocumented people suspected of violent crimes detained for 24 hours. The ordinance would free them.

ICE prefers not to comment on pending legislation, but a spokesperson told us that for them, the priority is to deport dangerous criminals.

Whatever Immigration might say, the critics of Secure Communities are moving forward. And the ban on cooperating, which today is only a proposal, has enough votes to become law.