San Francisco deputies union files complaint over immigration: newspaper

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 17, 2015 1:58 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The union representing San Francisco sheriff's deputies has filed a complaint against the Sheriff's Department in the wake of a shooting that sparked debate over illegal immigration, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Friday.

The newspaper said the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs' Association connected the apparently random shooting of Kathryn Steinle, 32, by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez to a department policy to block information about inmates from federal immigration authorities.

The newspaper said the union called for the cancellation of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's March memo barring staff from giving out information, including release dates, saying it "recklessly compromises the safety of sworn personnel, citizens, and those who merely come to visit the San Francisco area."

The union could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

The Sheriff's Department also could not be immediately reached but responded in a statement on Thursday to similar calls made by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

"Finger pointing around this tragedy serves no purpose other than election year politics," Mirkarimi said in a letter to the Mayor's Office, adding that legal conflicts could arise without revision of local so-called sanctuary ordinances.

Sanchez has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Steinle's July 1 shooting at a popular tourist area, which Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said was a result of weak U.S.-Mexico border security.

The shooting highlighted a long-standing "sanctuary city" policy in San Francisco, one of several hundred U.S. municipalities that limit assistance to federal immigration authorities, according to San Francisco officials.

Such laws were rooted in shielding Central and South American refugees from deportation in the 1980s, and court rulings have since cast doubt on whether detention requests from immigration officials without a formal court order are a legal basis for extended detention.

Authorities said Sanchez was released from federal prison in March after a felony re-entry conviction, then transferred to the sheriff's department on a drug warrant. Federal officials asked to be notified prior to his release.

The sheriff's department said since the charges were dismissed and there was no active warrant or judicial order for Sanchez's removal, the city's policy deemed him "ineligible for extended detention" and he was freed.

Sanchez had a lengthy criminal record and had been deported from the United States to Mexico five times, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Trott)