San Francisco Sheriff rejects enforcement of "Secure Communities".

San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessy announced that he will begin releasing undocumented immigrants who are in jail for minor crimes, even if federal authorities request that they remain in detention for a deportation hearing.

San Francisco is a "sanctuary city", thus established by a ordinance passed in 1989. The ordinance prohibits city employees from assisting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with investigations, arrests or enforcement of immigration laws unless a felony is involved.

The Sheriff's new policy is intended to enforce the sanctuary city ordinance, and will go into effect June 1.

Currently, sheriff's deputies hold undocumented immigrants charged with minor crimes in jail until ICE comes to pick them up. But starting June 1, sheriff's deputies will release them with a summons, just as they would a U.S. citizen, even if there is an ICE detainer.

In an editorial published last Sunday in the San Francisco Chronicle, the sheriff defends his decision. He asserts that the "controversial Secure Communities program destroys bonds of trust with immigrant residents" of the city and jeopardizes public safety if people who have been victims or witnesses of crime do not report it for fear of arrest and deportation.