Franciscans rally in support of the city’s “sanctuary city” status.
am a proud San Franciscan with the honor
of being the first Filipino elected to public office in my city serving
four terms in the San Francisco Community College Board from 1992
through 2008. City College of San Francisco has a Filipino student
population of 3,800 in our main Ocean campus of 38,000 students. In my
last term, we had a total population of 110,000 students in our 10 San
Francisco campuses, the largest community college in California.
Many of our Filipino students, like others
from Central and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, have expired
tourist visas and are out of status (TNTs) or “undocumented aliens” but
our job at City College is not to police their immigration status but to
educate them and provide them with the knowledge and skills to get a job
and provide a decent living for themselves and their families.
We have undocumented students who are
"dreamers", so named for the acronym of the bill (Development, Relief
and Education of Alien Minors Act) that would have granted permanent
residence to those who came to the US as children and who graduated from
an American high school if the bill had passed Congress. It almost did.
The Dream Act passed the House on December 8, 2010 by a vote of 216-198
and the Senate by a vote of 52-44 but Republicans required the senate
bill to garner 60 votes to pass without a Republican filibuster so the
Pres. Obama signed an executive order in
2012 called the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) granting
dreamers the right to obtain work permits for two year periods. The
order has not yet been revoked by Pres. Trump so over 900,000
applicants (including Filipino TNTs) have been able to
school and work legally.
San Francisco was perhaps the first in the
U.S. to become a sanctuary city when it passed the "City and County of
Refuge" Ordinance in 1989 prohibiting City employees from using City
funds or resources to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
in the enforcement of federal immigration law.
In 2013, San Francisco passed the “Due
Process for All” Ordinance prohibiting its law enforcement officers from
cooperating with ICE detainer requests, sometimes referred to as “ICE
holds”, or from inquiring about a person’s immigration status when
applying for City benefits, services or opportunities.
Keep Our Communities Safe
San Francisco passed our Sanctuary
Ordinance “to promote public trust and cooperation” and to “help keep
our communities safe by making sure that all residents, regardless of
immigration status, feel comfortable calling the Police and Fire
Departments during emergencies and cooperating with City agencies during
public safety situations.”
The importance of this ordinance was
supported by the recent report of the chief of police of Los Angeles
that there was a 25% drop in reports of rape and domestic violence among
Latinos in his city since the beginning of 2017. This is a worrisome
statistic in a city that is populated by an estimated one million
undocumented immigrants since the drop can only be attributed to
President Donald Trump’s aggressive enforcement of deportation against
those out of status or without documentation.
“Imagine a young woman—imagine your
daughter, sister, mother, your friend—not reporting a sexual assault
because they are afraid that their family will be torn apart,” Police
Chief Charlie Beck said in a press conference with Los Angeles Mayor
“We have entire communities of people
feeling like it’s no longer safe or feasible for them to report crime,”
said Jacquie Marroquin, director of programs for the California
Partnership to End Domestic Violence.
“Domestic violence, sexual violence, abuse
exist in the shadows,” Marroquin added. “When folks don’t feel like they
can come forward and bring these issues into the light, it forces them
to remain in harmful situations.”
This concern compelled Los Angeles to join
San Francisco and now about 39 cities and 364 counties throughout the
U.S. which have adopted sanctuary policies.
San Francisco Files for Injunctive Relief
When President Trump signed an executive
order on January 25, 2017 stripping federal funds from cities that bar
local police from enforcing U.S. immigration laws, San Francisco City
Attorney Dennis Herrera immediately filed suit in San Francisco federal
court to stop the implementation of Trump’s anti-sanctuary order.
In court filings, Herrera argued that Pres.
Trump was attempting to “bully” cities and counties by threatening to
withhold funds for programs that provide meals and medical care for
seniors and low-income families. He said the city stands to lose $1.2
billion in federal funds, mostly for entitlement programs for the poor.
“These entitlement programs are not the
president’s to take away from those in need, and San Francisco is not
one to back down from a bully,” Herrera said.
Herrera’s motion asked the court to bar
Trump from withholding funds and to rule that San Francisco’s sanctuary
policies comply with federal law.
The Pew Research Center reported that there
are an estimated 240,000 undocumented residents — about 5.3 percent of
the region’s total population — living in the metropolitan area of San
Francisco, Oakland and Hayward and another 120,000 in the metropolitan
South Bay area of San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara.
While San Francisco may be divided on many
issues, it is united on this one.
Migrants Must be Welcomed With Dignity
The acknowledged leader of San Francisco’s
conservatives is Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone who is a
national leader in the Pro-Life Movement protesting abortion. But when
Trump announced his anti-sanctuary executive order in January,
Cordileone declared that he is troubled by the actions Trump has taken
on immigration and declared that the Catholic Church will ensure that
immigrants “know their rights” and will be “protected.”
In its website, the San Francisco Catholic
archdiocese expressed its belief that “migrants must be welcomed with
dignity and respect – as if we were greeting Christ himself. Migrants
leave their home countries for a variety of reasons, with many escaping
life-threatening war zones and extreme poverty. In the United States,
and throughout the world, the Church devotes both pastoral and material
assistance to “welcome the stranger.”
On March 25, 2017, I spoke at a “Welcoming
the Strangers Among Us" immigration forum sponsored by the Filipino
Ministry of the San Francisco Archdiocese which was held to educate the
Filipino community about how we can help “illegal immigrants”. I
explained the rights of people confronted by immigration agents
to demand to see a search warrant before allowing them to enter your
home and to assert their right to remain silent and to seek the services
of an immigration attorney.
The immigration forum was held at the St.
Anne of the Sunset Church in San Francisco hosted by Archbishop William
Justice and Filipino priests led by Vicar for the Filipino community Fr.
Eugene Tongol along with Fr. Ray Reyes, Fr. Arnold Zamora, and Fr.
Other speakers included Cecile Ascalon,
Executive Director of the Pilipino Senior Resource Center, and Lorena
Melgarejo, Coordinator of the Parish Organizing & Leadership Development
of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The common message was this: “We
are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic,
and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers,
wherever they may be.”
On April 25, 2017, Federal Judge William
Orrick issued an order temporarily blocking President Trump’s efforts to
starve localities of federal funds when they limit their cooperation
with immigration enforcement. President Trump had overstepped his powers
by tying billions of dollars in federal funding to immigration
enforcement. Only Congress could place such conditions on spending,
Judge Orrick wrote.
At the “welcoming the strangers among us”
concelebrated mass on March 25, the priests explained the biblical
reference of the title of the program. In Matthew 25:42, the Bible talks
of Judgment Day when God judges those who did not follow His command:
“Depart from me, you who are cursed, into
the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry
and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to
drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes
and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look
after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or
thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did
not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not
do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Pres. Trump should be reminded of these
words: “I was a stranger and you did not invite me in.” God might add
“In fact, you deported me.”
(Send comments to
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at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call 415.334.7800.)