San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission
Full Commission Meeting
Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 5:30 PM
City Hall, Suite 370
One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
1. Call to Order and Roll Call
The meeting was called to order at 5:30 pm by Chair McCarthy.
Present: Commissioners Alexander, Chew, Enssani, Fuentes, Haile, Jones (late), Lingad-Ricci, McCarthy, Moses, and Ng
Not Present: Commissioners Gonzalez (excused) and Pérez (excused)
Staff Present: Adrienne Pon, Executive Director-Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs; Sally Leung, Executive Coordinator; Guianna Henriquez, Senior Policy Analyst; Richard Whipple, City Hall Fellow; and Whitney Chiao, Public Administration Intern
2. Public Comment
The Commission thanked Director Adrienne Pon for all her good work and for consistently updating and keeping the Commission informed. Director Pon and Commissioner Fuentes introduced the newest Commissioner, Lorena Melgarejo. Commissioner Melgarejo has worked with various communities, including immigrants, and has participated in organized community efforts. The director also introduced the latest staff additions to the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs: Guianna Henriquez, Senior Policy Analyst, and Richard Whipple, City Hall Fellow. Both new staff members have already made an impact in the office, helping with preparations for upcoming IRC events and reviewing the EAS Compliance Report.
Faramarz Kharayari from KUSF Radio and Elham Elahi came to speak about an incident that they feel was based on racial discrimination. Last Thanksgiving, Mr. Elahi was volunteering to create a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and injured his spine from lifting heavy containers. He was prescribed medication for his pain, but the side effects of the medication made it difficult for him to work and concentrate. There was also a period when he was unable to receive medication and experience withdrawal, forcing him to rest at home. During this time, he was unable to care for his apartment, which his landlord used as grounds to evict him.
Mr. Elahi feels that he was taken advantage of in this situation because the landlord asked him to sign documents, such as an eviction notice, knowing that his tenant was on medication. Other instances include his landlord sending late notices for overdue rent after the payments had been received, therefore increasing late fees. Additionally, he stated that his landlord has called him a terrorist and purposely misspelled his name in a derogatory manner. Mr. Elahi has spoken with a judge and received an extension on the ruling, which will be made on September 1, 2009. Since the Commission did not calendar this item and the Human Rights Commission is already looking into the issue, no action was taken. Individual Commissioners expressed interest in the case and will contact Mr. Elahi after the meeting for details on his hearing.
3. Action Item: Approval of minutes from June 8, 2009 and July 13, 2009 meetings
Motion to approve meeting minutes from June 8, 2009 and July 13, 2009 meetings moved by Commissioner Haile, seconded by Commissioner Moses, and approved unanimously.
4. Review of Attendance Policy and Expectations for Commissioners (Chair McCarthy)
The Chair restated the attendance policy that he presented at the last full Commission meeting. He would like to see unified commitment from Commissioners, and feels that the effectiveness of the commission is reflected in their enthusiasm for the commission’s work. He asks that commissioners join committees, that committee chairs invite commissioners onto their committee, and that all individuals actively participate and engage in the commission’s work.
5. Discussion and Approval of 2009 EAS Compliance Report (Commissioner Alexander)
The near final version of the report was introduced by Programs and Access Committee Chair Alexander who commented that the report is progressive and has numerous improvements compared to previous reports. The report now contains a stronger narrative and emphasizes the Commission’s role in overseeing the ordinance. The data has been verified and updated to include more relevant information from the departmental compliance reports. From the report, the Commission can see which departments take the ordinance seriously, not only by providing language services, but in the compliance reports they submitted. In the future, the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs will standardize how information is submitted and will take on more responsibility now that the amendment to the EAS Ordinance has been passed.
The report is a document that the commission can stand behind and Commissioner Alexander recommended that the commission approve the report after. Commissioner Lingad-Ricci moved to approve the report, seconded by Chair McCarthy, and unanimously approved by the commission. Commissioner Alexander commended the Director Pon and her staff for writing and preparing the report. The Director will review the report for final edits before submitting it to the Mayor, Board of Supervisors and to the departments. The office will also provide a copy of the report on the OCEIA website.
6. Update on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Fall Symposium (Staff Report)
Director Pon provided a brief recap of the Symposium planning. At the last full Commission meeting, a lot of ideas were discussed but nothing was finalized. Since then, she has asked Senior Policy Analyst Henriquez, who reviewed the plan for Commissioners. The plan outlines critical details and areas that the commission needs to focus on in preparation for the symposium: purpose, goals, objectives and outcomes. The symposium is set for November 9, 2009, in lieu of the full Commission meeting. The meeting will be approximately 2.5 hours long, with one hour for the panel speakers and one hour for Q&A and dialogue with the speakers and the commissioners. The goal of the panel is hear testimony on how to create humane and comprehensive immigration reform, and how different levels of government can approach such reform. The commission can achieve this by focusing on how to obtain three key policy goals, discuss how to utilize and maximize the potential for reform, and bring in key legislative, local, and community experts. The panel will also serve to inform local officials and residents.
Outstanding items for the panel include the location and the speakers. Staff is looking into possible venues, such as the state building. The staff has a list of candidates to invite, but also urges commissioners to propose candidates that they would like to speak as well.
Director Pon also updated the commission on the joint hearing held with the Human Rights Commission on April 13, 2009. Senior Policy Analyst Henriquez will be authoring the executive summary as part of an interagency team. The Commission hopes to have the report done by the next neighborhood meeting.
7. Update on October 5, 2009 Excelsior Neighborhood Meeting (Staff Report)
Director Pon reported that the neighborhood meeting is finalized for October 5, 2009 and OCEIA staff is working closely with the Supervisor Avalos' staff. The location for the meeting is not finalized but will be in a school site that is accessible via public transportaion. The meeting will be an open forum but will include time to discuss two relevant issues: car impoundments and home foreclosures. The purpose of the meeting is to itemize and address the concerns of the public. To do so effectively, the commission will allocate some time for introductions and the two topics raised by Supervisor Avalos, but prioritize public comment from the community. This will also allow the commission to note other important concerns presented by the public.
Commissioners also made recommendations for the upcoming and future meetings. The Chair advised commissioners not to endeavor to solve all the issues raised at the meeting, but to regroup and collectively discuss the issues raised before taking any action. Commissioner Melgarejo also added that the commission was successful in raising awareness of car impoundments to the San Francisco Police Department by presenting collective testimony rather than presenting each case individually. Commissioner Moses proposed that a future neighborhood meeting be held in the Southeast neighborhood, due to its increasing diversity.
8. Executive Director’s Report
a. IRC updates: Director Pon thanked the Commission for their participation, with 11 out of 13 of the commissioners at the meeting. She also thanked the Chair for keeping in contact with her during the summer, and the Programs and Access Committee for providing direction for many of the upcoming IRC events when other Committees were not available.
There are three vacancies on the Commission: two Mayoral appointments and one by the Board of Supervisors. Commissioners can nominate anyone who they feel is qualified, and the applicant must fill out the required forms.
b. OCEIA Updates: Now that the office has more staff, the Director plans to publish reports for all major IRC activities, going beyond just transcripts. OCEIA will be bringing on more interns in the fall. Summer Interns Carlos Sanchez and Chris Wong will be returning as paid interns to work on the website, three PAAWBAC women fellows will be working in the office, and one to two Census workers will be housed in the office.
The office is currently looking into language rights issues, including an anti-immigrant movement aimed at rescinding the executive order required bilingual communications from federal agencies. Intern Carlos Sanchez is currently working on the office website, and City Hall Fellow Richard Whipple is finalizing IRC commissioner biographies. Changes should be sent directly Mr. Whipple. The Director hopes to have something online within the next two weeks.
9. Adoption of Committee Reports
a. Executive Committee – The committee reminded the Commission that the date of the symposium has been changed. They also wish to invite the Chief of Police to the October Excelsior neighborhood meeting.
b. Program and Access Committee – The committee would like to thank OCEIA staff for their work on the EAS Compliance Report
c. Outreach Committee – The committee plans to change their meeting time because committee members have difficulty meeting at 4:30 pm.
d. Immigration Reform Committee – No new updates
10. New Business
Commissioner Fuentes brought up the Municipal City ID training held by Director Pon, and urged all commissioners to attend a session. After holding a presentation for 20-30 people, Commissioner Fuentes was invited to Mexico to give a presentation. Providing informational sessions for the community not only helps clear up questions that the community has by conveying the right information, but it also increases the visibility of the commission.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:00 by Chair McCarthy.