Skip to main content

DA backs off push for SF sanctuary city exemptions

DA Brooke Jenkins speaks to the press at her office in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, August 3, 2022. Jenkins announced a new office policy that would create harsher penalties for drug dealers. | Juliana Yamada/The Standard

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins is backpedaling on her requests last month to bypass sanctuary city rules as a means to prosecute two Mexican nationals who fled the country after allegedly committing crimes in San Francisco.

Jenkins asked the Board of Supervisors Feb. 7 for permission to cooperate with immigration authorities in the case of one man accused of child rape and another man suspected of a domestic violence murder. As The Standard first reported, Jenkins said federal authorities would only extradite the suspects from Mexico if San Francisco agreed to alert immigration officials if either man gets released from jail.

San Francisco law typically prevents local law enforcement from telling federal authorities when an undocumented person is going to be let out.

But Jenkins on Wednesday said she no longer wants city lawmakers to entertain her requests “after meeting with the victims of these horrific crimes and community leaders.” Instead, she will call on federal authorities to transport the suspects to San Francisco without the concessions.

“I understand and believe the community’s concerns and how sacred our sanctuary city policy is to San Francisco’s diverse communities,” Jenkins said in a statement. “Our sanctuary city as it stands today does not prevent the federal government from working with us or pursuing these criminals.”

Jenkins’ reversal comes a day after the board passed a resolution from Supervisor Hillary Ronen urging the Biden administration to extradite the suspects without the city making any exception to its sanctuary rules. Federal authorities did so in a 2019 case after making a similar demand.

An advocacy coalition that opposed the proposal issued a statement celebrating the decision. The group, dubbed the FREE SF coalition, includes immigrant and civil rights organizations such as the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Asian Law Caucus and ACLU of Northern California.

“Let’s be clear: any collusion between law enforcement and DHS makes it harder for survivors to get the help they need,” the statement reads.

Jenkins’ proposal was one of two back-to-back efforts to weaken San Francisco’s sanctuary protections last month.

The other, from Supervisor Matt Dorsey, would carve out an exception allowing San Francisco to help deport certain undocumented fentanyl dealers. Facing opposition at the board, Dorsey is considering putting his proposal on an upcoming ballot.

Filed Under