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SF Supervisors propose $2 million aid fund for illegal immigrants

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed a resolution Tuesday committing the city to offering legal aid and other assistance to illegal immigrants who could face criminal charges under proposed federal legislation.

The resolution, introduced by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, is the latest in a string of measures adopted by the city that puts it at odds with federal immigration policy. But unlike previous calls for action, supervisors this time are proposing a $2 million fund for services for immigrants.

At a City Hall rally attended by advocates for immigrants, Supervisor Chris Daly said he would use his position as chairman of the board's Budget and Finance Committee to find funds that could be used to fight the effects of the "Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act" passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December and other proposed legislation.

Under the $2 million spending proposal, funds would pay for immigration legal services, English courses and community outreach and education.

"This is smart, this is proactive, this is common sense and this is compassionate," Daly told supporters.

The board committee led by Daly is holding hearings on Mayor Gavin Newsom's proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. Daly noted that the proposed budget doesn't include money for aid to immigrants.

Advocates say San Francisco consistently has declined to enforce what they call "draconian" federal immigration law in recent years. In 1989, supervisors passed an ordinance giving the force of law to a policy adopted in 1985 declaring San Francisco a city of refuge for immigrants fleeing persecution -- whether they are in the United States legally or not. The ordinance forbade city employees from helping to enforce immigration laws. This year, Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval proposed that city police agencies ignore proposed federal laws that would make illegal immigrants felons.

In other action at Tuesday's meeting, the board gave final approval to campaign reform legislation that would require elected officials to provide detailed records of who pays for their travel outside the state and would prevent corporations from making direct contributions to political candidates.

The board also passed an ordinance that would limit parking spaces for new residential development downtown to just three spots for every four units of new housing. Newsom vetoed similar legislation earlier this year.

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