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San Francisco Could End Immigrant Detentions

San Francisco County appears ready to make it illegal for local jails to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally and turn them over to immigration agents.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a vote on the proposed ordinance is expected to pass a Board of Supervisors committee Thursday, and eventually a full board vote as well.

Under the federal Secure Communities program, immigration agents receive information about arrested individuals, and if they believe someone may be deportable, can request that the jail hold that person for up two days.

The program has helped the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE, deport nearly 2 million people since President Barack Obama took office.

But growing numbers of jurisdictions nationwide have started resisting the program, for a variety reasons. They include the argument that contrary to ICE's stated goal to prioritize deporting serious offenders, many immigrants caught up in the program have committed only minor violations, or none at all.

That's the argument San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos made in the Chronicle article.

"The legislation is about due process against the arbitrary loss of liberty," Avalos said, arguing that the current situation has created a "dragnet" that is wrongfully sweeping up innocent people.

Though San Francisco may be ahead of most municipalities, a bill currently working its way through the California legislature would impose a similar prohibition on honoring ICE detention requests on all local law enforcement agencies in the state.

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