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San Francisco Mayor Proposes Initiatives on Illegal Aliens, Panhandlers

August 6, 1992

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Illegal aliens convicted of felonies would be turned over to immigration authorities and aggressive panhandlers would face a maximum six months in jail under ballot initiatives proposed by Mayor Frank Jordan.

The proposal on undocumented immigrants drew criticism from civil rights activists, who said the mayor was trying to use such aliens as scapegoats.

″He just perpetuates the classic, typical scapegoating techniques,″ said Manuel Romero, regional council of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. ″Immigrants have always been an easy target.″

The measure would require officials to report illegal aliens convicted of felonies to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. In 1989, San Francisco was the first city in the nation to declare itself a city of refuge for undocumented people.

″This is not a witch hunt,″ Jordan said. ″San Francisco will always be a sanctuary for oppressed people. But it will not be a sanctuary for anyone who is a convicted felon.″

Both proposals, outlined Wednesday by the mayor, will be on the November ballot.

The panhandling initiative calls for anyone found aggressively soliciting to face fines of up to $500 and up to six months in jail.

Jordan said his office receives an average of 15 calls a day from residents complaining of belligerent panhandlers.

″They’re out there aggressively soliciting and intimidating and obstructing and putting fear into people and that’s unacceptable behavior,″ Jordan said. ″This is a small percentage of the people of San Francisco, who, by the way, are giving the homeless a bad name.″

Opponents called the initiative ″a mishmash of empty catch words.″

″It is not written to provide any real solutions to San Francisco’s problems,″ said county Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg. The measure would only serve to polarize the community and create a heavier burden on already overcrowded city jails, he said.

But Jordan said jail overcrowding could be alleviated in part by his illegal alien initiative. He estimated that of more than 2,000 inmates in the city’s jails, between 100 to 200 do not have residency visas.

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