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"Mayor Gavin Newsom Held Press Conference Pledging to Forbid Law Enforcement in San Francisco from Collaborating with Department of Homeland Security. Instead Invites All Illegal Aliens to Come Forward for Free Taxpaid Education, Healthcare and other Social Services. Gavin Newsom Defies Federal and State Law", Tony Dolz

 

San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco promotes services
for illegal immigrants

 

Cecilia M. Vega, Chronicle Staff Writer

A series of new television and radio commercials, billboards and bus shelter signs will soon go up around San Francisco advertising the fact that the city by the bay is also a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants.

City officials on Wednesday unveiled the $83,000 ad campaign, which features images of smiling residents and the iconic city skyline and spreads the message in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Russian. Brochures, which will be handed out in public buildings like police stations and hospitals, promise safe access to city services for the undocumented and a don't-ask-don't-tell policy when it comes residency status.

"We are standing up to say to all of our residents: We don't care what your status is," Mayor Gavin Newsom said. "We care that you, as a human being, are a resident of our city and we want you to participate in the life of our city."

Officials said the public awareness campaign was prompted in part by a series of federal immigration raids around the region last year that left undocumented immigrants hesitant to come forward to seek medical treatment or report crimes, out of fear they might be deported.

But the campaign precedes the city's plan in August to begin issuing municipal identification cards to city residents - regardless of whether they are in the country legally. Officials said they not only want immigrants to know about San Francisco's sanctuary city policy, they want city workers, business owners and others to know the same.

"We're taking a big bite of the reality sandwich in admitting that there are people who live here who may or may not have citizen status," said Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who helped spearhead the ad campaign and who represents the city's heavily Latino Mission District.

Police Chief Heather Fong said officers will report undocumented immigrants if they have a felony arrest, but otherwise, "we do not work on enforcing immigration laws."

San Francisco became a sanctuary city in 1989 and since then it has barred city employees from helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents with immigration investigations or arrests, unless help is required by a federal or state law or a warrant.

It is the city's formal policy to not report illegal immigrants to federal immigration agents when they visit public health clinics or hospitals, enroll their children in school, report a crime to the police or seek other city services or apply for benefits.

And while a number of cities around the country also call themselves sanctuary cities, including San Jose and Oakland, Houston, Seattle, Chicago and Miami, few - if any - have embarked on a widespread campaign to advertise the fact.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani adamantly denied that New York is a sanctuary city after he came under fire over the issue last year during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

"San Francisco clearly is going a step beyond most places in boasting (about) and advertising this. Most cities kind of almost apologize to their voters when they complain about it," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank that supports restrictions on immigration.

Krikorian said San Francisco and other sanctuary cities are "openly subverting the federal government's ability to protect the borders" by extending protections to undocumented immigrants.

"They're making it as easy as they can for illegal immigrants to live in San Francisco," he said.

Newsom, a Democrat who is considering running for California governor in 2010, made headlines last year when he said he would not allow city department heads or "anyone associated with this city" to cooperate in federal immigration raids. Wednesday he said no other issue he has championed has received a more negative reaction from the public than his sanctuary city stance - "and that includes gay marriage."

"Until we get it right in this country on immigration, until we come to grips with the reality of newcomers from around the world ... then it is appropriate to protect our citizens, to protect our residents and to protect our families," Newsom said.

Newsom made the announcement in his City Hall office, alongside a coalition of high-profile city leaders, from the police and fire chiefs to city department heads and representatives from churches and community groups.

The city recently created a position for an "immigrants rights administrator" to work with city agencies so that employees understand the sanctuary city policy and how to better serve immigrant communities.

City Administrator Ed Lee called San Francisco's new sanctuary city ad campaign "not only the liberal thing to do, it's the responsible thing."

E-mail Cecilia M. Vega at cvega@sfchronicle.com

© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.

 

 

The Rule of Law:

The doctrine that no individual is above the law
and that everyone must answer to it.

"Justice is defined by the application of the law without
distinction to all similarly situated"
, Tony Dolz

 

 

Tags: Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco, Sanctuary City, Immigration, Amnesty, Sanctuary City for Immigration Law Violators, Illegal Aliens, Undocumented Immigrants, Gay Marriage, Same Sex Marriage, Heather Fong, San Francisco Chief of Police, Alex Tourk, Jennifer Siebel, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Villaraigosa

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