So says county Supervisor Eric Mar. Notables gathered on City Hall steps this morning to denounce the County's inclusion in a Department of Homeland Security program that automatically vacuums up the fingerprints of everyone booked by local law enforcement and funnels them to immigration authorities (ICE). That's Sheriff Mike Hennessey speaking, backed on the left by Renee Saucedo from the Day Laborer Program, Eric Quezada from Dolores Street Community Services, Supervisor Mar, the Labor Council's Tim Paulson, and Supervisor David Campos.
Last Wedsnesday, Hennessey told the San Francisco Chronicle:
He has written to the Attorney General asking that San Francisco be allowed to opt out of the program.
This seems unlikely and the result will be big changes:
What the Feds are doing amounts to removing any presumption of innocence -- whether of being out of immigration status or as regards the crime individuals were booked for -- from consideration by an agency, ICE, that can jail and deport people pretty much at will. That should be a stunning development, but panic about immigrants has enlisted far too many of us in this vain search for "security."
ICE's main response to concerns about the program seems to be that "it's biometric" and that the agency's staffing is not adequate to enforce deportation of everyone caught up in its web. So people are going to be caught in a dragnet in order to pump up ICE's budget demands? Seems likely.
Mayor Gavin was notably absent this morning. He's running for statewide office, so he's pro-mass deportations this week.
This article seemed very true to me. For my Boomer generation, immigration was something you studied in history. It came right before World War I and consisted of pictures of crowded urban tenements and sweatshops full of European migrants (maybe even your grandparents). Maybe you were exposed to the melting pot theory of history. But whatever immigration was, it was in the past.
Immigration reforms since 1965 have opened up the country to people from Asia and Latin American, while business' appetite for cheap labor has drawn a flood of undocumented persons eager to work. This is a different society and some older people are having trouble adjusting.
The analogy to gay marriage leaped to mind while reading the New York Times story: do we just have to wait for some people to die off in order for panic about immigrants, about different people and cultures, to recede?
Actually, I think there is evidence that things aren't quite that bad. Immigration panic hit its peak in California in the mid-1990s -- since then, though there are certainly places where the generational fault line is a chasm, the acute panic has receded. The same people who rallied at City Hall today would have spoken out in the 1990s -- they did in fact -- but there would have been a lot more heat, a lot more fear. The new generation coming along ensures we can't go back to that.