In an Oakland meeting of the BART Board yesterday, two BART directors took the stance that the regional transit system should investigate and perhaps adopt a "Sanctuary in Transit Policy." That policy, those directors explained, would be an effort to better serve BART patrons regardless of immigration status in a corollary to the Sanctuary City policies of municipalities like San Francisco, where local law enforcement avoids collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies and other federal officials.
The charge was lead by D9 BART Director Lateefah Simon and D8 BART Director Nick Josefowitz. “Many undocumented immigrants ride BART every day," Josefowitz said in the meeting according to a press release issued afterward. "They should feel just as safe and secure as any other BART rider." Josefowitz cited the statistic that 500,000 undocumented immigrants call the Bay Area home.
"Local enforcement needs to focus on keeping our communities safe, rather than becoming entangled in federal immigration efforts,” Simon said at the meeting. “BART is the backbone of the Bay Area. Regardless of their immigration status, riders should have the security of getting to and from work without becoming unduly targeted during their daily commutes.”
The elephant in the room is President Trump, who has repeatedly voiced opposition to Sanctuary City policies, threatening to cut federal funding to cities including San Francisco where that policy exists and signing in January an executive order punishing Sanctuary Cities. San Francisco moved to challenge the order, becoming the first city to sue over it. It's fair to guess that the President will make similar threats, on Twitter or by executive order, to cut federal funding to BART if it eventually enacts a Sanctuary in Transit policy.
As the proposal wasn't an item submitted in advance to the public agenda for the meeting, specific policy matters weren't discussed, as the Chronicle explains is in keeping with California opening meeting laws that require such public notice. Still, more than 10 speakers at the meeting during public comment voiced their support for the motion.
To provide an example of the policy's necessity, Simon recalled an undocumented immigrant who told her that he was cited for fare evasion and wanted to pay but was afraid that BART police or officials would turn him over to ICE. “If our system can mirror some of the best cities and municipalities in this country that are standing up to hate and xenophobia that would be great,” said Simon. “We want to be on the right side of history.”
The motion raised at the BART Board meeting yesterday will be taken up next by BART’s Operations & Safety Committee at its next meeting, KRON4 reports. If adopted, such a policy would be the first sanctuary-in-transit policy in the nation that would operate across multiple counties according to KQED.