Tag Archives: sanctuary

San Francisco mayor vows to remain sanctuary city

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.

India denies forcing tribes from ‘Jungle Book’ tiger reserve

A wildlife official in central India on May 25 rejected claims that tribes living in a tiger sanctuary inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” were being forced from their ancestral land to protect the endangered animals.

Indigenous rights group Survival International says the Baiga tribes in the Achanakmar Wildlife Sanctuary in Chhattisgarh state are being harassed by forest guards to leave the land where they have lived for generations.

B.N. Dwivedi, principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden in Chhattisgarh, said there were plans to relocate some tribal villages that are inside the sanctuary, but that no force was being used.

“When we evacuate some villagers from the tiger reserve, it cannot be done without their permission, without their acceptance, without their saying ‘yes’,” Dwivedi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh.

“The allegation that they are being relocated forcefully is not correct and entirely incorrect.”

Achanakmar covers an area of 552 sq km (213 sq miles) and is home to numerous flora and fauna, including endangered animals such as leopards, wild bison and the Bengal tiger.

It forms part of a tiger corridor to the neighbouring Kanha National Park, which provided the inspiration for “The Jungle Book”, Kipling’s novel about an abandoned boy who is raised by wolves in the jungle in India.

London-based Survival International said the Baiga people were told they will have to move from their villages to a muddy clearing outside the reserve, even though there is no evidence their presence in the reserve is harming tigers.

In fact, it said, the number of tigers in the reserve has reportedly risen to 28 in 2015, from 12 in 2011.

“It’s illegal and immoral to target tribes, who have co-existed with the tiger for centuries, when industrialisation and mass-scale colonial-era hunting are the real reason the tiger became endangered,” said Survival’s Director Stephen Corry.

“Big conservation organisations should be partnering with tribal peoples, not propping up the forest departments that are guilty of brutalising them. Targeting tribal people harms conservation,” Corry said in a statement on Monday.

Despite a slew of “pro-poor” policies, activists say India’s economic boom has bypassed many tribal communities, who make up more than 8 percent of its population of 1.3 billion people.

Many live in forest villages, eking out a living by farming, rearing cattle, collecting and selling fruit and leaves.

The Forest Rights Act, a law recognising the right of indigenous tribes to inhabit forests where their forefathers had settled centuries earlier, came into force in 2008.

But some environmentalists fear it has hindered conservation efforts and encouraged the poaching of animals such as tigers.

Dwivedi said there were plans to relocate 250 Baiga families from four villages, but all were happy to leave the reserve.

“They are in fact very much willing to go out of that place,” he said. “They want to come out from the area so that they get schooling, hospital as well as road facilities.”

(Reporting by Jatindra Dash, writing by Nita Bhalla, editing by Alisa Tang. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

Fate of hundreds of baboons in research program uncertain

The fate of hundreds of baboons at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center research facility in El Reno remains uncertain after the school announced plans to wind down the program that used the animals.

In September, OU president David Boren said the program would come to an end in three to four years.

The announcement came after animal rights groups raised concerns about findings of non-compliance with the Animal Welfare Act by USDA veterinarian medical officers inspecting the facility.

The Norman Transcript reports it’s likely the animals will continue to be sold for research for now.

The university says it is working with the National Institutes of Health to develop a plan for placement of the baboons, including the possibility of putting some of the animals in sanctuaries.

Progressives in North Carolina speak out against ‘race-baiting’ immigration bill

A bill that would prohibit communities from becoming so-called sanctuaries for people in the country illegally and that would limit the types of acceptable personal identification will cause distrust between police and the communities they serve, progressive and immigrant groups say.

Nayely Perez-Huerta, regional organizer for the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network, spoke of Pope Francis’ words last week when he visited the U.S. and called on lawmakers, she said, “to ensure the well-being of all society, especially those who are most vulnerable.”

North Carolina is doing exactly the opposite, she said. “It is shameful that legislators are emulating the states like Arizona and Alabama that have enacted legislation that criminalizes and racially profiles immigrants,” she said.

The state Senate gave its final approval to the measure Monday night as the legislature seeks to wrap up this year’s protracted session later this week. The significantly changed bill returns to the House, where it originated as a measure to increase the number of employers who must participate in the federal E-Verify program.

The Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, said the bill’s provisions would drive wedges between police and communities, making people less safe. While the bill is titled “Protect North Carolina Workers Act,” in reality, it is race-baiting, he said.

The Burlington Police Department supports the intent of parts of the bill, but other sections would “place limitations on the ability of our police department to interact with residents within the city,” Capt. Chad Slaughter said.

“If we limit the forms of identification that police can accept, the number of regular citizens who are booked into jail for prints and pictures will increase,” he said. This would take up valuable staff time and “create inequities in enforcement practices,” he said.

Some cities and nonprofit groups have created photo identification cards for some immigrants. The bill would make the use of these documents and some IDs created by foreign governments unacceptable for determining someone’s identity or residency, or for obtaining insurance and certain government services.

Sen. Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford, proposed an amendment that would have removed the ID provision from the measure. Robinson said police chiefs use the IDs to improve relations with law-abiding individuals in their communities.

“However well-intentioned this provision is, it’s actually going to undermine all of our safety,” said Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake. But Sen. Norm Sanderson, R-Pamlico, who is shepherding the bill in the Senate, said it’s unclear what standards are being used in creating these non-official cards to determine the person’s identity.

The bill, Sanderson said, would “make sure that when forms of ID are being used that they meet certain criteria.” The amendment failed. The full measure then passed 28-17.

During debate late last week before an initial vote, senators focused on the provision in the measure that would prevent cities from instructing law enforcement or other officials not to ask the immigration status of people with whom they come into contact.

Some municipalities — Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro among them — have approved such policies, which makes them “sanctuary cities,” in the eyes of bill supporters, who say city officials shouldn’t ignore immigrants who are in the country unlawfully.

Critics of the bill also don’t like a provision that would stop the Department of Health and Human Services from seeking waivers to extend a three-month limit for food stamps for some able-bodied adults in high unemployment areas. A statewide waiver expires Oct. 1, but an amendment Monday night directed DHHS to seek to extend the waiver to March 1.

Argentina: Court grants orangutan basic rights

An orangutan that has lived 20 years at the Buenos Aires zoo is entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by humans, an Argentine court has ruled, a decision the ape’s attorney called unprecedented and a ticket to greater freedom.

The ruling comes a month after a local animal rights group filed a habeas corpus writ in favor of Sandra, who was born in Germany but has lived in captivity in Buenos Aires most of her life.

“Following a dynamic … judicial interpretation, it is necessary to recognize that the animal is subject to rights, and should be protected,” said theruling, published this week by the official judicial news agency.

Andres Gil Dominguez, who represented the orangutan, said the “unprecedented” ruling paves the way for the habeas corpus rights to be accepted by the courts and for Sandra to be released at a sanctuary.

{It sets a precedent that changes the paradigm of animal guardianship and will impact their rights. … It will lead to a lot of discussions,” Gil Dominguez told The Associated Press.

“From this ruling forward … the discussion will be whether captivity in itself damages their rights.”

Earlier this month, a New York appeals court ruled that a chimpanzee is not entitled to the rights of a human and does not have to be freed by its owner. The three-judge Appellate Division panel was unanimous in denying “legal personhood” to Tommy, who lives alone in a cage in upstate Fulton County.

A trial-level court had previously denied the Nonhuman Rights Project’s effort to have Tommy released. The group’s lawyer, Steven Wise, told the appeals court in October that the chimp’s living conditions are akin to a person in unlawful solitary confinement.

Wise argued that animals with human qualities, such as chimps, deserve basic rights, including freedom from imprisonment. He has also sought the release of three other chimps in New York and said he plans similar cases in other states. But the mid-level appeals court said there is neither precedent nor legal basis for treating animals as persons.

Dairy group wants to defend Idaho ‘ag gag’ law against filming animal abuse

The Idaho Dairymen’s Association is asking a federal judge to allow the industry group to intervene in a lawsuit against a new law that makes it illegal to secretly film animal abuse at agricultural facilities.

The dairymen’s association filed a motion to join Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden as a defendant in the lawsuit.

A coalition of animal activists, civil rights groups and media organizations sued the state last month, asking U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill to strike down what they call an “ag gag” law. The coalition contends that the law criminalizes whistleblowing by curtailing freedom of speech, and that it makes gathering proof of animal abuse a crime with a harsher punishment than the penalty for animal cruelty itself.

Proponents of the law say it prevents animal rights groups from targeting agricultural businesses, and that it protects the private property and privacy rights of agricultural operators.

In the motion to intervene, attorney Daniel Steenson said the association’s members could be substantially affected by the results of the lawsuit, and so the association has the right to intervene.

“The Complaint makes clear that, without the protection the statute provides, IDA members will again be targeted for clandestine infiltration by individuals masquerading as employees to gather evidence to be used against them in criminal prosecutions, media persecutions, and economic sabotage,” Steenson wrote.

The Idaho Legislature passed the law earlier this year after Idaho’s $2.5 billion dairy industry complained that videos showing cows being abused at a southern Idaho dairy hurt business.

The Los Angeles-based animal rights group Mercy For Animals released the videos, which showed workers at Bettencourt Dairy beating cows in 2012. 

The law says people caught surreptitiously filming agricultural operations face up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

By comparison, a first animal cruelty offense is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. A second offense within 10 years of the first conviction carries a penalty of up to nine months in jail and a fine up to $7,000.

The groups bringing the lawsuit are the Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, the Center for Food Safety, Farm Sanctuary, River’s Wish Animal Sanctuary, Western Watersheds Project, Sandpoint Vegetarians, Idaho Concerned Area Residents for the Environment, Idaho Hispanic Caucus Institute for Research and Education, CounterPunch, Farm Forward, Will Potter, James McWilliams, Monte Hickman, Blair Koch and Daniel Hauff.

On the Web…

The Mercy for Animals video on YouTube. Caution, it is very difficult to watch.