San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is urging San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors to hold a hearing on the city's Sanctuary City policy following a July 1 homicide allegedly committed by an undocumented, convicted felon.
In response to a letter from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee earlier this week, calling on the sheriff to rescind the department's federal immigration communications policy, Mirkarimi sent a letter Wednesday asserting that the request raises legal conflicts that must be resolved immediately.
The shooting death of 32-year-old San Francisco resident and Pleasanton native Kathryn Steinle at Pier 14, and the subsequent arrest of undocumented immigrant, convicted felon and five-time deportee Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez has ignited a national debate over the city's Sanctuary City and Due Process for All ordinances.
Among those who have weighed in on the issue are presidential candidates Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, and Martin O'Malley as well as local elected officials who say Lopez-Sanchez should not have been released onto the streets of San Francisco instead of handed over to ICE.
Mirkarimi said he wants a committee hearing to be held on the two ordinances that have come under fire.
The mayor maintains that the Sanctuary City Ordinance allows for the sheriff's department to communicate with federal immigration authorities regarding requests for notification pertaining to undocumented, convicted felons.
Lee also said "in certain circumstances" local law enforcement may notify federal officials when "a particular individual" is set for release. He said that type of action is not prohibited by the 2013 Due Process for All Ordinance.
Mirkarimi said an "open and honest conversation about the legislative intent and meaning of San Francisco's ordinances and how they comport with everyday enforcement of laws leading to deportations" is needed.
"Your letter does not provide legal clarity regarding my department's duty under city law," Mirkarimi writes.
Mirkarimi said that requiring the sheriff's department to contact federal immigration officials would gut the city's Due Process For All Ordinance, which both Mirkarimi and the mayor supported when it was created in 2013.
The sheriff maintains that his department does not honor ICE detainers and does not notify federal immigration officials about the release of undocumented immigrants from custody because without probable cause it would violate not only the Due Process for All Ordinance and the Sanctuary City Ordinance, but also the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In order for the sheriff's department to comply with the mayor's request, Mirkarimi said that the Board of Supervisors would need to amend the administrative code as it relates to honoring detainers or else appoint an administrative law judge to review immigration detainers and provide a warrant or finding of probable cause for those who federal immigration officials seek to detain.