An internal investigation is underway at the San Francisco County Jail after it was discovered two ICE agents were able to get around the city’s sanctuary city policy and interview an undocumented inmate.
On Tuesday, KRON4 talked to the sheriff and the public defender who first reported the breach.
“That’s a direct violation of local and state law,” San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said.
Adachi says some of his lawyers spotted ICE agents at the city’s jail last week.
It turns out the same two ICE agents were allowed inside to talk to inmates. Both were at the jail No. 2, which is in the Hall of Justice and at the main jail around the corner.
One inmate declined to talk to the ICE agents, but a second inmate did not.
“Agents were allowed to come into the jail. They interrogated one of our clients, asked him a bunch of questions about where he was from and his citizenship, and afterward, had him sign a piece of paper,” Adachi said. “Now, there’s a federal immigration detainer on our client which means once he’s released from custody. They are demanding he be sent to ICE, so this is a huge problem”
Sheriff Vicki Hennessy is describing her reaction when she learned the news.
“I was horrified to learn that this it happened,” Hennessy said. “I was very disappointed”
It’s a violation of San Francisco’s Sanctuary City Policy for law enforcement to cooperate with ICE when they are enforcing federal immigration laws.
Sheriff Hennessy says this bulletin was re-issued that outlines the policy, and for the next week, watch commanders will be reviewing the bulletin during all three daily shifts.
“I’m committed to making sure it doesn’t happen again,” Hennessy said. “I think we have some of the strongest sanctuary city policies in the country, and as sheriff, all I can do is apologize because the buck stops with me on the accountable person in this incident.”
The sheriff says she believes the breach was simply a mistake and not an instance where deputies were willfully violating the policy.
But she plans to double check that by way of an internal investigation which is underway.