1. What does it mean that San Francisco is a Sanctuary City?
In 1989, San Francisco passed the "City and County of Refuge" Ordinance (also known as the Sanctuary Ordinance) which prohibits City employees from helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with immigration investigations or arrests unless such help is required by federal or state law or a warrant. The Ordinance is rooted in the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980's, when churches across the country provided refuge to Central Americans fleeing civil wars in their countries. In providing such assistance, faith communities were responding to the difficulties immigrants faced in obtaining refugee status from the U.S. government. Municipalities across the country followed suit by adopting sanctuary ordinances.
In recent years, the Sanctuary Movement has experienced a rebirth, as grassroots organizations, faith communities, and local government have stood firmly against repressive immigration proposals in Congress and immigration raids that separate families. In February 2007, Mayor Gavin Newsom reaffirmed San Francisco's commitment to immigrant communities by issuing an Executive Order that called on City departments to develop protocol and training on the Sanctuary Ordinance.
2. Is San Francisco the only Sanctuary City?
No. In fact, San Francisco is just one of many sanctuary cities across the U.S. Below is a list of just a few of these cities:
Los Angeles, CA
San Bernardino, CA
San Jose, CA
New Haven, CN
|Fort Collins, CO
DeLeon Springs, FL
St. Paul, MN
|New York City, NY|
Salt Lake City, UT
Fairfax County, VA
Jackson Hole, WY
Source: Ohio Jobs & Justice PAC
3. Why did the City launch a public outreach campaign about the Sanctuary Ordinance?
The Sanctuary City public outreach campaign, launched in April 2008, seeks to promote trust and let City residents know that they can safely access City services. City employees will not report San Francisco residents or their immigration status to federal immigration agents when they go to a public health clinic, enroll their child in school, report a crime to the Police Department or seek out other City services.
4. Does the Sanctuary Ordinance give immigrants more benefits?
The Sanctuary Ordinance does not change the public services available to immigrants. It does, however, ensure that everyone can feel safe accessing those services, regardless of their immigration status. It is important to note that some City services may still require people to show identification to establish eligibility for certain public benefits. However, this information will not be disclosed to federal immigration authorities.
5. How does the Sanctuary Ordinance impact law enforcement?
While the Police Department and Sheriff's Department do not generally share information with federal immigration agents, there are some exceptions to this general rule. For example, local law enforcement officers may inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that they have arrested someone for a felony offense or who has a prior felony conviction, if officers become aware that the arrested person is an undocumented immigrant.
6. How does the Sanctuary Ordinance benefit San Francisco?
The Sanctuary Ordinance helps to maintain the stability of our communities. It keeps our communities safe by making sure all residents feel comfortable calling the Police and Fire Departments during emergencies. It keeps our families and workforce healthy by providing safe access to schools, clinics and other City services.
7. Why do immigrants come to the U.S.?
Immigrants usually explain their decision to leave their home country for another in terms of push-pull factors. Poverty, lack of opportunity and danger "push" people to leave; opportunity, availability of jobs, education, and safety "pull" people elsewhere. About three quarters of immigrants come to the U.S. through family-sponsored immigration to join close family members. Some come to work through employment-based immigration. A limited number of immigrants get a visa through the annual diversity visa lottery open to immigrants from certain countries. Others come to the U.S. seeking protection from persecution. (Sources: Chomsky, Aviva. "They Take Our Jobs!" And 20 Other Myths About Immigration. Beacon Press, 2007; International Institute of Boston)
Graph Source: International Institute of Boston