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San Francisco Slaying Prompts Immigration Debate In Michigan, SF Sheriff Comes Under Fire

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Since the tragic slaying of Kathryn Steinle on July 1, the already contentious debate over immigration has intensified. On Wednesday in Michigan, Republican lawmaker Sen. Mike Kowall introduced a bill targeting “Sanctuary City” policies while San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was hit with a formal complaint by the San Francisco deputies union linking the death of Kathryn Steinle to a March order barring them from communicating with federal employees, reports Fox News Latino.

In sanctuary cities, policies are designed in such a way that they prevent police and municipal employees from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status.

According to The Washington Times, the bill being introduced by Sen. Kowall would prohibit local governments from enforcing sanctuary city polices, stating that “we’re not beyond” such a horrific event from occurring here.

We’re not beyond having something like that happen over here. We’re there to protect the public. That’s what we should be doing.

Two major cities in Michigan have sanctuary city polices, Ann Arbor and Detroit. In 2003 Ann Arbor’s council ordered the police chief to limit immigration enforcement to criminal violations, not administrative, with a worthy exception being in cases of “legitimate public safety concern.” Detroit’s city council in 2007 approved an anti-profiling law barring police from obtaining information about a person’s compliance with immigration laws, or from investigating the immigration status of victims of crimes, or witnesses.

The supervising attorney for the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, Susan Reed, said that while Detroit and Ann Arbor police are limited in their interactions with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the policies would not have extended to the “horrible” killing in San Francisco; on the other hand she said “you do not want to be perceived as the deportation cops” when it comes to routine traffic stops. Immigration advocates are seeking a commitment from local law enforcement to not contact immigration every time someone is pulled over and ends up not having a license, or other very low-level interactions because you don’t want to set a precedent of fear and mistrust in the immigration community.

You do not want to be perceived as the deportation cops if you have immigrants in your community who you want to call you, contact you, call you when you’re trying to do your policing.

Rep. Stephanie Chang, a democrat, referred to the new legislation a “step backwards.”

So while this battle wages in the now Republican controlled legislature, the San Francisco Sheriff is enduring what he’s referred to as “finger-pointing.”

Finger-pointing around this tragedy serves no purpose other than election year politics. Your request to rescind the policy and require the SFSD to contact federal immigration officials would eviscerate the city’s Due Process For All Ordinance, an ordinance I supported and which you signed into law.

The unions complaint says the arrest of Francisco Sánchez  – the alleged killer of Kathryn Steinle who was freed from custody with a felony record and record of deportations – shows the polices implemented by Mirkarimi “recklessly compromises the safety of sworn personnel, citizens, and those who merely come to visit the San Francisco area,” SF Gate reported.

The mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee, sent the Sheriff a note in which he said that law enforcement “may notify federal officials when a particular individual is set for release in certain circumstances.”

However, Mirkarimi maintains that this would circumvent the Due Process For All Ordinance, and lead to unconstitutional detentions. As the debate continues, advocates say that a line must be drawn at dangerous immigrants. Whether lawmakers will have temperance or create laws out of impulse has yet to be seen.

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