BART ‘Sanctuary in Transit’ proposal sent back for revisions

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Francesca Ledesma/File

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BART’s Operations and Safety Committee took a “Sanctuary in Transit” policy draft resolution off the tracks at its Tuesday meeting, citing wording concerns.

The policy, originally proposed by Lateefah Simon and Nick Josefowitz of the BART Board of Directors, would limit BART police’s cooperation with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. This proposal comes after a White House executive order directing the attorney general and secretary of homeland security to defund sanctuary jurisdictions, a classification that includes Berkeley, San Francisco and Oakland.

The committee — comprised of Simon as well as Joel Keller, Rebecca Saltzman and John McPartland from the BART Board of Directors —  intends to move forward with the policy but sent the draft resolution back for revisions, Saltzman said.

BART staff wrote the resolution after Simon and Josefowitz originally proposed it last month, according to Saltzman.

“(Their proposal) had a clear intent, but didn’t have all the language laid out,” Saltzman said. “The language that staff came up with, it was wordy and legalistic.”

Members of the committee wanted clearer language for the next draft that would better convey that BART police will not target immigrants.

“If (undocumented immigrants) get ticketed for a small offense on BART, they’re not gonna be turned over to ICE, they’re not gonna be deported,” Saltzman said.

Funding concerns also played a role in the committee’s discussion, given that the Trump administration has repeatedly threatened to defund sanctuary cities, such as Berkeley, San Francisco and Oakland. $1.8 million of the $53 million in federal funds BART receives each year goes toward law enforcement. It is unclear, however, how much of that $53 million the federal government could withhold if the proposal takes effect, according to BART spokesperson Taylor Huckaby.

”The general manager made it very clear that she wanted to put it on the record that we are putting at risk $53 million,” Huckaby said.

Saltzman also expressed uncertainty as to how much was at risk and questioned the legality of the Trump administration’s Jan. 25 executive order.

BART District Secretary Kenneth Duron said in an email that the Operations and Safety Committee will discuss an updated draft of the proposal at its April 18 meeting. It will then determine whether to put the proposal on the agenda at the April 27 Board of Directors meeting for a vote.

Despite the revisions, Saltzman reaffirmed BART’s commitment to “Sanctuary in Transit.”

”So many people in the Bay Area are concerned and are scared,” Saltzman said. “They are fearful that, at any time, ICE could knock on their door. … That is not our intention at BART.”

Contact Connor Bunnell at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @cbunnell_dc.