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San Francisco yields to new immigration policy

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Undocumented youths arrested on felony charges in San Francisco would have to be convicted before police could turn them over to federal immigration officials under a new policy approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors voted Tuesday to overturn an existing ordinance that allows police to hand over juvenile illegal immigrants after they have been arrested on felony charge.

The supervisors' 8-2 vote is enough to override an expected veto from Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Calling the new policy "unenforceable," Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for Newsom, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the mayor would continue to direct law enforcement officials to hand over undocumented youths charged with felonies after their arrest.

"We are not going to put our law enforcement officers in legal jeopardy just because the Board of Supervisors wants to make a statement," Ballard told the newspaper.

According to a memo the city attorney's office sent to Newsom two months ago, the new policy could present legal challenges because "federal law prohibits the City from taking any adverse action against a City official or employee who reports a juvenile to federal immigration authorities."

The city attorney's office declined comment Tuesday.

Immigration rights advocates and city supervisors who voted in favor of the ordinance Tuesday argue that felony charges brought against most juveniles are often dropped to a lesser offense and the city's existing policies can separate youths from their families.

"We expect the mayor's office to follow the laws of the city and county of San Francisco - that's his job," said supervisor David Campos. "If he refuses to do that, the board will have to figure out what our options are."

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