Posted By: Drew Joseph | July 29 2010 at 06:09 PM

A group of immigrant-rights groups today demanded that state Attorney General Jerry Brown meet with them to discuss his decision to force San Francisco to follow a federal program that they say violates their rights and has similarities to Arizona’s immigration law. Some of the speakers at the San Francisco protest even threatened that they would oppose Brown, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, in November’s election if he did not change his position.

After demonstrating in front of the State Building at 455 Golden Gate Ave., a group of protestors went up to Brown’s office on the 11th floor, hoping to speak with Brown. He was not there, but one of his staffers met with the group and told the crowd that he would pass along the message to Brown.

The policy in question is Secure Communities, or S-COMM, developed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It requires state Departments of Justice to forward fingerprints of those arrested to the FBI so that the feds can check if the person has a criminal history outside that state.

“ICE’s stated intent and practice is to place holds on those individuals who are in the country illegally and who have a history of serious crimes or who have been previously deported,” Brown wrote in a May letter to San Francisco County Sheriff Michael Hennessey after Hennessey requested that San Francisco, a sanctuary city, be able to opt out of the policy.

“Because I think this program serves both public safety and the interest of justice, I am declining your request,” Brown wrote to Hennessey.

The groups protesting today compared S-COMM to Jim Crow Laws and said the policy should be called “Terrorized Communities,” not “Secure Communities.” They also said that it challenged San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city.

While some speakers at the event, including Tim Paulson of the San Francisco Labor Council, said it was important to still support Brown for governor over Republican nominee Meg Whitman, others, including San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, said that Latino and immigrant communities will pull their support of Brown if he maintains his position on S-COMM.

“He is not going to become governor of this state unless he has wide support from the Latino community, from the immigrant community, and that is not going to happen unless he clearly comes out against this program,” said Campos in a bilingual address.

But Christine Gasparac, Brown’s press secretary, said that the policy is helping keep San Francisco safer. Here is her statement:

Before the Secure Communities program, arrested people were often released before their criminal history was discovered. Using fingerprints is faster, race-neutral and results in accurate information and identification.

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