A large crowd cheered earlier this week as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee vowed that the city will remain a sanctuary 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 sanctuary cities 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.”
San Francisco receives roughly $480 million directly from the federal government and more than $900 million from the state, much of it pass-through federal money, city Controller Ben Rosenfield said.
The largest share goes toward health care, but federal dollars also fund public assistance and infrastructure, he said. The city’s budget is $9.6 billion.
It’s uncertain how the city would recoup that money should Trump make good on his promise to cut off sanctuary cities.
Also reacting to Trump’s statements on deportations, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said his officers will stay out of immigration issues as they have for decades. “I don’t intend on doing anything different,” Beck told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.
“We are not going to engage in law enforcement activities solely based on somebody’s immigration status. We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job,” Beck said.
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 except in rare situations. 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 Monday 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.