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City's immigrant sanctuary policy questioned

Residents of South Carolina may have heard about the infamous shooting death of a woman at a San Francisco pier that took place about a year ago. The shooter who killed the 32-year-old woman was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who was facing drug charges. The fatal incident brought attention to the controversial idea of 'sanctuary cities," places where local authorities refuse to communicate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Before the shooting, the sheriff in San Francisco banned staff from communicating with immigration authorities about inmates that could be targeted for deportation. A new sheriff in San Francisco has repealed that ban, but communication between the San Francisco Sheriff's Department and ICE is still very minimal. The Mexican national accused of the pier shooting had been released from jail prior to the shooting, though federal authorities had asked that he be held and deported.

Officials in San Francisco are now talking about clarifying the city's policies regarding communication with federal deportation authorities. A proposal on guidelines for communication with ICE would advise law enforcement officers to contact ICE about certain immigrants. A call to ICE would only be made regarding immigrant suspects that are being charged with a violent crime and have at least one conviction for a violent crime during the past seven years.

A foreign-born person who is undocumented or has not yet become a citizen of the United States can face serious consequences for a criminal conviction. An immigration attorney can sometimes help to avoid deportation. Such an attorney may also be able to help people to become citizens once they have satisfied the various naturalization requirements.

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