AG Tells San Francisco to Turn Over Fingerprints

Attorney General's decision may be result of election-year political calculation

By Jackson West
|  Thursday, Jun 30, 2011  |  Updated 11:45 AM PDT
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San Francisco has a landmark sanctuary city ordinance meant to keep the city from having to turn over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities, but the city may have no choice in the case of anyone arrested of even minor crimes.

The federal "Secure Communities" program would mean that law enforcement agencies would have to turn over fingerprints so that Immigration and Customs Enforcement can check their residency status.

Leading to enough insecurity in immigrant communities that Sheriff Michael Hennessey asked California Attorney General Jerry Brown if the city could get away with not participating.

Brown, who's running for governor against one of two Republicans who have promised crackdowns on illegal immigrants, responded that no, San Francisco will have to turn over the fingerprints after all.

"I think this program serves both public safety and the interest of justice," Brown -- who has been burnishing his "tough on crime" credentials ever since being elected as mayor of Oakland -- wrote.

San Francisco's sanctuary city policy has only been to report to ICE only those born abroad who have been arrested for felonies, however that policy has come under attack from both sides -- with critics complaining that it wrongfully prejudices those suspected, but not convicted, and others saying that the city has no authority to skirt federal policy.

Jackson West figures Brown wouldn't sign any laws like that in Arizona, but still, this decision feels like pandering.

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