On Nov. 10, 2009, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors enacted amendments to the City's Sanctuary Ordinance regarding the confidentiality of juveniles' immigration status. As authored by Sup. David Campos and passed by the Board, the ordinance requires the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department to comply with its provisions "to the extent permitted by state and federal law."
Since the ordinance was enacted, City Attorney Herrera has consistently reaffirmed his intention to be an aggressive advocate for the measure's fullest possible force and effect under the law, while at the same time fulfilling his Charter-mandated duty to provide a complete and honest assessment of potential legal risks to inform City policymakers' decisions.
As Herrera has said: "Even though I have endeavored to be a constant advocate for the rights of children and immigrants, rights that are near and dear to me personally, and even though I empathize with the policy objectives underlying the recent amendments relating to juveniles, and vigorously oppose the U.S. Attorney's continuing threats of criminal prosecution against the City, I must abide by my overarching ethical duty as the City's lawyer."
The City Attorney's major responsibilities under the San Francisco Charter include advising clients of the legal implications of their policy decisions; defending clients in litigation involving the scope of their official duties; and being the legal advocate for the validity of City ordinances. Notwithstanding City Attorney Herrera's continued assurances that he will aggressively fulfill his responsibilities with respect to the amended Sanctuary Ordinance, however, some confusion appears to persist as a result of efforts by a small number of local activists to misrepresent facts and over-state the City Attorney's authority under the Charter and state law.
The City Attorney's Office is committed to informing the issue as fully and transparently as possible with the documentation included here.
- PDF of the U.S. Justice Department's response to the City Attorney's March 12, 2010 letter from Portia Roberson, Director of the DOJ's Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison (April 30, 2010)
- PDF of City Attorney's letter to Deputy Attorney General of the United States requesting that the Attorney General issue guidance to the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Northern District of California to not criminally prosecute City officials or employees who abide by California law and local laws regarding the juvenile justice system as they relate to the reporting of undocumented juveniles. (March 12, 2010)
- PDF of correspondence between the City Attorney and LGBTQ organizations regarding the implementation of amendments to the San Francisco Sanctuary Ordinance (March 1, 2010)
- PDF of correspondence from City Attorney Herrera addressing multiple factual misrepresentations put forth in a Jan. 25, 2010 letter from the San Francisco Immigrants Rights Defense Committee. Included in the PDF presskit are subsequent responses from several SFIRDC member organizations, disavowing the Jan. 25 letter that purported to speak on their behalf. (Jan. 29, 2010)
- PDF of San Francisco Immigrant Rights Defense Committee handout distributed at their City Hall protest of City Attorney Herrera's swearing-in ceremony [Note: among several misrepresentations contained in this handout, the City Attorney's Office is not empowered under the City Charter to "greenlight" clients' policy decisions, or to dictate implementation decisions to City departments. Rather -- consistent with the City Attorney's Charter and professional duties -- the office endeavors to provide all clients with consistent, candid and thorough analyses of the legal risks and implications of their policy decisions.] (Jan. 7, 2010)
- PDF of San Francisco Immigrant Rights Defense Committee poster distributed at City Hall rally demanding that City Attorney Dennis Herrera "Stop Deporting Innocent Youth" [Note: the San Francisco City Attorney's Office does not, in fact, deport anyone] (Dec. 16, 2009)
- PDF of City Attorney Dennis Herrera's legal memorandum to Sup. David Campos entitled, "Implementation of Amendments to the City of Refuge Ordinance Regarding the Confidentiality of the Immigration Status of Juveniles" (Dec. 16, 2009) (See also the complete PDF "Lawyers' Statement on Bush Administration’s Torture Memos" (Aug. 4, 2004), addressing lawyers' professional obligations, which is cited herein)
- PDF of Sup. David Campos's request for a City Attorney Opinion on the question of mayoral authority to implement amendments to the City of Refuge Ordinance regarding the confidentiality of the immigration status of juveniles (Dec. 10, 2009)
- PDF of San Francisco Ordinance 228-09 and accompanying memorandum amending provisions of the San Francisco City and County of Refuge ("Sanctuary") Ordinance with respect to the confidentiality of juveniles' immigration status (Dec. 9, 2009)
- PDF of U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello's response to City Attorney Dennis Herrera regarding the recent amendment to the San Francisco Sanctuary Ordinance (Dec. 3, 2009)
- PDF of representative sample of correspondence between the City Attorney and political advocates urging implementation of the amendment to the San Francisco Sanctuary Ordinance (Nov. 24, 2009)
- PDF of City Attorney Dennis Herrera's letter to U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello regarding the newly-enacted amendment to the San Francisco Sanctuary Ordinance respecting the confidentiality of juveniles' immigration status (Nov. 10, 2009)
- PDF of Mayor Gavin Newsom's veto letter of the proposed amendment to the San Francisco Sanctuary Ordinance respecting the confidentiality of juveniles' immigration status (Oct. 28, 2009)
- PDF of Legal Memorandum by Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Defense Committee (Sept. 29, 2009), which notably argues that 1) "the City Attorney and legal experts agree that the proposed amendment is legally tenable and defensible," and 2) "Once proposed legislation has been approved as to form by the City Attorney, the decision to enact such legislation is a policy decision that rests with the Board of Supervisors and Mayor. It is not, as some have argued, a legal decision."
- PDF of City Attorney memorandum to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors regarding the disclosure of attorney-client privileged advice from the City Attorney's Office (Aug. 20, 2009)
- PDF of City Attorney memorandum to the Mayor entitled, "Legal Issues in Connection with the Proposed Amendment to Sanctuary City Ordinance" (Note: this had been a confidential communication the attorney-client privilege of which was later waived by the Mayor.) (Aug. 18, 2009)
- PDF of City and County of San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department, Probation Services Division Policies and Procedures, Policy 8.12, "Undocumented Persons" (Aug. 26, 2009)
- PDF of City Attorney memorandum to the Mayor regarding "Undocumented Youth Detained in the Juvenile Justice System" (July 1, 2009)
- PDF of City Attorney memorandum to the Juvenile Probation Department regarding "Applicability of Section 12H.2-1 of the Administrative Code to Wards of the Juvenile Court" (Feb. 7, 1994)
- PDF of the previous, unamended City and County of Refuge ("Sanctuary") Ordinance, Chapter 12H, San Francisco Administrative Code (Oct. 24, 1989)
- PDF of Board of Supervisors Resolution 1087-85 urging then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein to "declare San Francisco to be a City of Refuge" (Dec. 23, 1985)