Sensing the political winds might not always be in her favor, SF District Attorney Brooke Jenkins has done a — for her thus far — rare about-face on a policy decision, regarding SF's sanctuary city status.
A month ago we learned that Jenkins was seeking an exception to the city's sanctuary city policy, relating to a pair of suspects who had committed crimes in San Francisco and have since fled the country. One is a suspect in a 2009 domestic violence murder, and the other has a warrant for multiple child sexual abuse charges. The Department of Homeland Security apparently reached out to the DA's office saying they've located the suspects living abroad, and they could send U.S. Marshals to apprehend them and get them extradited — but the feds wanted assurances from the city that they would be alerted if either of the suspects were ever released from custody.
Such an alert would constitute local law enforcement cooperating with federal immigration authorities, and that would violate the city's 34-year-old sanctuary city policy — a policy that was far less controversial during its first couple of decades, but has been wildly politicized in the last ten years. (See also the Kate Steinle case.)
"These men must be brought to the United States to face justice and be held accountable for their heinous crimes," Jenkins said four weeks ago, seeking to have a carve-out in the policy made to appease Homeland Security. "We cannot let our well-intentioned policy be exploited in this way and must act now."
The thing is, SF's police already makes exceptions for violent crimes, so this was really just Jenkins looking to give Homeland Security some extra concession they were asking for.
And in the intervening weeks, there has been an outcry from activists and from the Board of Supervisors — even though one supervisor, Matt Dorsey, is seeking his own carveout in the policy, changing the status of fentanyl dealing to the category of serious and violent crimes which don't fall under the sanctuary policy. The Board voted Tuesday 10-1 on a resolution (with Dorsey being the sole dissenting vote) asking the Biden Administration and Homeland Security to "reject the recent attack on San Francisco’s long-standing Sanctuary Ordinance" — and specifically not to delay in extraditing the two suspects in question.
Jenkins has now asked Supervisor Catherine Stefani to table the two ordinances that would have carved out the sanctuary city exceptions for these suspects. She said she made the decision "after meeting with the victims of these horrific crimes and community leaders."
In a statement on Twitter, Jenkins continues, "I understand and believe the community’s concerns and how sacred our sanctuary city policy is to San Francisco’s diverse communities. Our sanctuary city [policy] as it stands today does not prevent the federal government from working with us or pursuing these criminals."
Per KTVU, Jenkins claims that "her decision to change her position was not related to the board’s vote." But the board's vote, a day before her move, sent a clear signal that there would be zero political will to enact the exceptions she was seeking.
Previously: DA Jenkins and Supervisor Dorsey Both Seek Carve-Outs To SF Sanctuary City Policies
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images