San Francisco’s deputy sheriffs have joined the fight over the department’s handling of deportation requests. The deputy’s union is filing a grievance against the sheriff demanding that he rescind his non-cooperation policy with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is running for re-election. His campaign has been hit from all sides over his handling of the Pier 14 shooting suspect, and now his own deputies are entering the fray.
Mirkarimi told reporters the deputy union’s complaint is no surprise. "Exactly, it’s politics," he said.
The deputy sheriffs' grievance says the sheriff’s policy of non-cooperation with ICE "...recklessly compromises the safety of sworn personnel, citizens and those who merely come to visit San Francisco."
The beef comes from the release of Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant who was due to be deported but instead was let out of county jail after prosecutors refused to pursue a minor drug charge.
Lopez Sanchez is now charged with the July 1 murder of Kate Steinle on San Francisco’s waterfront.
Jail deputies had been calling ICE to let the feds know when someone like Lopez Sanchez was due to be released, but in March the sheriff forbid those phone calls.
The grievance demands the department immediately rescind the sheriff’s directive.
Mirkarimi’s response Friday morning was more of a shrug.
"I think they’re trying to capitalize on the fact that this is an election year and they support one of their own -- my opponent -- in the sheriff’s race, and so a fairly predictable move, frankly," said Mirkarimi.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has been trying to oust the sheriff ever since Mirkarimi took office, embroiled in a domestic violence case. Now the mayor and the sheriff are trading jabs over the city’s sanctuary ordinance. The mayor insists there is nothing that forbids the sheriff from picking up the phone and telling ICE when an undocumented inmate is going to be freed. The sheriff insists that such phone calls contradict the spirit and the letter of the law.
"I actually invite the mayor, encourage him, to come with me and the city attorney before the Board of Supervisors so that we can have an open and transparent discussion," said Mirkarimi.
The mayor said Friday he stands by his criticism of the sheriff.
We tried reaching the Deputy Sheriff’s Association for comment, but on the day their grievance was made public no one from the association was available to answer our questions.