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S.F. Holds Down the Left - By Stephen Jackson - February 22, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

S.F. Holds Down the Left

(Photo by Brian Peyrovian)

The State of Texas sued Obama at least 48 times throughout his administration. These days, its tune has changed: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a brief on Feb. 15 pledging the Lone Star State’s unwavering support of the new commander-in-chief’s travel ban.

On the other side of the country — here on the Left Coast — it shouldn’t surprise anyone that City Hall (and most San Franciscans) is prepared to fight President Trump at every turn, but the extent to which this has already happened is enough to make one shed a tear of leftist local pride.

Let’s take a look at what’s happened since January.

Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Malia Cohen have introduced a plan to ban city agencies from cooperating with “any government program requiring the registration of individuals on the basis of religious affiliation, kinship or belief.” While the resolution was not in direct response to an executive order, it seeks to put San Francisco ahead of the curve, should such a registry be created. Originally dubbed the Religion Registry Non-Cooperative Ordinance, it was introduced to the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee on Feb. 8 and is still in the process of being amended.

Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Hillary Ronen are proposing the city boycott any business that helps build Trump’s wall. Though they’re just trial-ballooning the idea at the moment, it wouldn’t be first time the city has taken this sort of action. Back in the 1970s, San Francisco passed a law that prohibited investing in any company doing business with apartheid-era South Africa, and last year, Lee banned all nonessential publicly funded travel by city employees to North Carolina as a result of its discriminatory restrictions on transgender people’s use of bathrooms. If nothing else, the mere proposal of the boycott sends a clear message to the powers that be.

On Jan. 24, the Board of Supervisors approved an additional $1.5 million for legal defense of undocumented immigrants, adding to the $3.2 million included in the current budget. However, there’s a movement in City Hall to provide more robust support by creating a special deportation defense unit in Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s office to handle legal services for those facing deportation.

Of the roughly 1,500 people detained during deportation proceedings in San Francisco last year, 67 percent did not have legal representation. On Feb. 16, Supervisors Jane Kim and Sandra Fewer sponsored an ordinance providing funding for the program, which would allow for 10 new attorneys in Adachi’s office to handle such cases. Amidst some controversy, the proposal was held over to the March 2 meeting.

Oh, and City Attorney Dennis Herrera sued the president.

In January, Herrera filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration, claiming the executive order threatening to withhold funding from sanctuary cities like San Francisco is an unconstitutional overreach of executive power. If acted upon, Trump’s threat could result in the loss of $1.2 billion in federal funding for San Francisco.

Herrera’s lawsuit is the first of its kind and seeks to prove that San Francisco is in compliance with federal law and should not lose any federal funding.

“This country was founded on the principle that the federal government cannot force state and local governments to do its job for it, like carrying out immigration policy,” Herrera said in a statement. “I am defending that bedrock American principle today.”

Given the response we’ve already seen at the mere prospect of withholding these funds, Trump & Co. could have a full-scale uprising on their hands if the Feds start shorting cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles billions of dollars.

Beyond City Hall, BART is making preparations as well. At a BART Board of Directors meeting on Feb. 9, directors Lateefah Simon and Nick Josefowitz introduced a “sanctuary in transit policy” that would limit BART cops’ enforcement of federal immigration policies. Josefowitz cited a recent study that estimates 500,000 immigrants without legal status live in the Bay, and he pointed out that many of them ride BART every day.

“If our system can mirror some of the best cities and municipalities in this country that are standing up to hate and xenophobia and homophobia.… We want to be on the right side of history,” Simon said at the meeting.

It appears the battle has begun, and it’s hard to believe we’re only a month into the Trump era.