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The City and County of San Francisco (the "City") is home to persons of diverse racial, ethnic, and national backgrounds, including a large immigrant population. The City respects, upholds, and values equal protection and equal treatment for all of our residents, regardless of immigration status. Fostering a relationship of trust, respect, and open communication between City employees and City residents is essential to the City's core mission of ensuring public health, safety, and welfare, and serving the needs of everyone in the community, including immigrants. The purpose of this Chapter 12I, as well as of Administrative Code Chapter 12H, is to foster respect and trust between law enforcement and residents, to protect limited local resources, to encourage cooperation between residents and City officials, including especially law enforcement and public health officers and employees, and to ensure community security, and due process for all.
The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") is responsible for enforcing the civil immigration laws. ICE's programs, including Secure Communities and its replacement, the Priority Enforcement Program ("PEP"), seek to enlist local law enforcement's voluntary cooperation and assistance in its enforcement efforts. In its description of PEP, ICE explains that all requests under PEP are for voluntary action and that any request is not an authorization to detain persons at the expense of the federal government. The federal government should not shift the financial burden of federal civil immigration enforcement, including personnel time and costs relating to notification and detention, onto local law enforcement by requesting that local law enforcement agencies continue detaining persons based on non-mandatory civil immigration detainers or cooperating and assisting with requests to notify ICE that a person will be released from local custody. It is not a wise and effective use of valuable City resources at a time when vital services are being cut.
ICE's Secure Communities program (also known as "S-Comm") shifted the burden of federal civil immigration enforcement onto local law enforcement. S-Comm came into operation after the state sent fingerprints that state and local law enforcement agencies had transmitted to the California Department of Justice ("Cal DOJ") to positively identify the arrestees and to check their criminal history. The FBI would forward the fingerprints to the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") to be checked against immigration and other databases. To give itself time to take a detainee into immigration custody, ICE would send an Immigration Detainer – Notice of Action (DHS Form I-247) to the local law enforcement official requesting that the local law enforcement official hold the individual for up to 48 hours after that individual would otherwise be released ("civil immigration detainers"). Civil Immigration detainers may be issued without evidentiary support or probable cause by border patrol agents, aircraft pilots, special agents, deportation officers, immigration inspectors, and immigration adjudication officers.
Given that civil immigration detainers are issued by immigration officers without judicial oversight, and the regulation authorizing civil immigration detainers provides no minimum standard of proof for their issuance, there are serious questions as to their constitutionality. Unlike criminal warrants, which must be supported by probable cause and issued by a neutral magistrate, there are no such requirements for the issuance of a civil immigration detainer. Several federal courts have ruled that because civil immigration detainers and other ICE "Notice of Action" documents are issued without probable cause of criminal conduct, they do not meet the Fourth Amendment requirements for state or local law enforcement officials to arrest and hold an individual in custody. (Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas Co., No. 3:12-cv-02317-ST *17 (D.Or. April 11, 2014) (finding that detention pursuant to an immigration detainer is a seizure that must comport with the Fourth Amendment). See alsoMorales v. Chadbourne, 996 F. Supp. 2d 19, 29 (D.R.I 2014); Villars v. Kubiatowski, No. 12-cv-4586 *10-12 (N.D. Ill. filed May 5, 2014).)
On December 4, 2012, the Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris, clarified the responsibilities of local law enforcement agencies under S-Comm. The Attorney General clarified that S-Comm did not require state or local law enforcement officials to determine an individual's immigration status or to enforce federal immigration laws. The Attorney General also clarified that civil immigration detainers are voluntary requests to local law enforcement agencies that do not mandate compliance. California local law enforcement agencies may determine on their own whether to comply with non-mandatory civil immigration detainers. In a June 25, 2014, bulletin, the Attorney General warned that a federal court outside of California had held a county liable for damages where it voluntarily complied with an ICE request to detain an individual, and the individual was otherwise eligible for release and that local law enforcement agencies may also be held liable for such conduct. Over 350 jurisdictions, including Washington, D.C., Cook County, Illinois, and many of California's 58 counties, have already acknowledged the discretionary nature of civil immigration detainers and are declining to hold people in their jails for the additional 48 hours as requested by ICE. Local law enforcement agencies' responsibilities, duties, and powers are regulated by state law. However, complying with non-mandatory civil immigration detainers frequently raises due process concerns.
According to Section 287.7 of Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations, the City is not reimbursed by the federal government for the costs associated with civil immigration detainers alone. The full cost of responding to a civil immigration detainer can include, but is not limited to, extended detention time, the administrative costs of tracking and responding to detainers, and the legal liability for erroneously holding an individual who is not subject to a civil immigration detainer. Compliance with civil immigration detainers and involvement in civil immigration enforcement diverts limited local resources from programs that are beneficial to the City.
The City seeks to protect public safety, which is founded on trust and cooperation of community residents and local law enforcement. However, civil immigration detainers and notifications regarding release undermine community trust of law enforcement by instilling fear in immigrant communities of coming forward to report crimes and cooperate with local law enforcement agencies. A 2013 study by the University of Illinois, entitled "Insecure Communities: Latino Perceptions of Police Involvement in Immigration Enforcement," found that at least 40% of Latinos surveyed are less likely to provide information to police because they fear exposing themselves, family, or friends to a risk of deportation. Indeed, civil immigration detainers have resulted in the transfer of victims of crime, including domestic violence victims, to ICE.
The City has enacted numerous laws and policies to strengthen communities and to build trust between communities and local law enforcement. Local cooperation and assistance with civil immigration enforcement undermines community policing strategies.
In 2014, DHS ended the Secure Communities program and replaced it with PEP. PEP and S-Comm share many similarities. Just as with S-Comm, PEP uses state and federal databases to check an individual's fingerprints against immigration and other databases. PEP employs a number of tactics to facilitate transfers of individuals from local jails to immigration custody.
First, PEP uses a new form (known as DHS Form I-247N), which requests notification from local jails about an individual's release date prior to his or her release from local custody. As with civil immigration detainers, these notification requests are issued by immigration officers without judicial oversight, thus raising questions about local law enforcement's liability for constitutional violations if any person is overdetained when immigration agents are unable to be present at the time of the person's release from local custody.
Second, under PEP, ICE will continue to issue civil immigration detainer requests where local law enforcement officials are willing to respond to the requests, and in instances of "special circumstances," a term that has yet to be defined by DHS. Despite federal courts finding civil immigration detainers do not meet Fourth Amendment requirements, local jurisdictions are often unable to confirm whether or not a detention request is supported by probable cause or has been reviewed by a neutral magistrate.
The increase in information-sharing between local law enforcement and immigration officials raises serious concerns about privacy rights. Across the country, including in the California Central Valley, there has been an increase of ICE agents stationed in jails, who often have unrestricted access to jail databases, booking logs, and other documents that contain personal information of all jail inmates.
The City has an interest in ensuring that confidential information collected in the course of carrying out its municipal functions, including but not limited to public health programs and criminal investigations, is not used for unintended purposes that could hamper collection of information vital to those functions. To carry out public health programs, the City must be able to reliably collect confidential information from all residents. To solve crimes and protect the public, local law enforcement depends on the cooperation of all City residents. Information gathering and cooperation may be jeopardized if release of personal information results in a person being taken into immigration custody.
In late 2015, Pedro Figueroa, an immigrant father of an 8-year-old U.S. citizen, sought the San Francisco Police Department's help in locating his stolen vehicle. When Mr. Figueroa went to the police station to retrieve his car, which police had located, he was detained for some time by police officers before being released, and an ICE agent was waiting to take him into immigration custody immediately as he left the police station. It was later reported that both the Police Department and the San Francisco Sheriff's Department had contact with ICE officials while Mr. Figueroa was at the police station. He spent over two months in an immigration detention facility and remains in deportation proceedings. Mr. Figueroa's case has raised major concerns about local law enforcement's relationship with immigration authorities, and has weakened the immigrant community's confidence in policing practices. Community cooperation with local law enforcement is critical to investigating and prosecuting crimes. Without the cooperation of crime victims – like Mr. Figueroa – and witnesses, local law enforcement's ability to investigate and prosecute crime, particularly in communities with large immigrant populations, will be seriously compromised.
(Former Sec. 12I.1 added by Ord. 391-90, App. 12/6/90; amended by Ord. 409-97, App. 10/31/97; Ord. 38-01, File No. 010010, App. 3/16/2001; repealed by Ord. 171-03, File No. 030422, App. 7/3/2003)