Defiant San Francisco vows to remain sanctuary city

Janie Har, AP writer

A large crowd cheered as Mayor Ed Lee vowed that San Francisco will remain a sanctuary city for immigrants, gays and lesbians and religious minorities despite the election of a president who strikes fear into many of those communities.

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to cancel federal funding for any sanctuary city such as San Francisco that decline to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. He also said he plans to deport millions of criminals who are living in the country illegally.

“We will always be San Francisco,” said Lee from the Rotunda of City Hall as dozens of people roared with approval at an event that featured the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and a host of public elected officials.

“I know that there are a lot of people who are angry and frustrated and fearful, but our city’s never been about that. We have been and always have been a city of refuge, a city of sanctuary, a city of love.”

Lee said the city receives between $500 million and $1 billion a year from the federal government, largely for health and human services to homeless, veterans and others. It’s uncertain how the city would recoup that money should Trump make good on his promise to cut off sanctuary city funding,

Trump excoriated San Francisco last year when 32-year-old Kate Steinle was shot and killed by a Mexican native who said he had found a gun and it accidentally fired.

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez had a federal detainer on him, but he was released from San Francisco’s jail after the district attorney declined to prosecute a decades-old marijuana sales charge. The sheriff at the time freed Lopez-Sanchez in keeping with city laws not to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

San Francisco’s sanctuary policy, which was tweaked and re-affirmed earlier this year, bars city employees from cooperating with federal immigration officials in deportation efforts. The law dates to 1989.

The current sheriff, Vicki Hennessy, also supports sanctuary policy as a public safety tool. Sanctuary advocates say people who live in the country illegally are more likely to report crimes to local police if they know they won’t be deported.

She said that she’s concerned but taking a wait-and-see approach to a Trump presidency

“I’m following Hillary Clinton’s advice in her concession speech, which was to give the new president a chance to lead, and hopefully he’ll lead with compassion and understanding, as well as making sure our cities are safe for everybody,” Hennessy said.