In California, policies on sanctuary cities clash

In California, the word "sanctuary" prompts talk of Edwin Ramos, a 22-year-old Salvadoran accused of a brutal triple murder last year.

Ramos journeyed illegally to San Francisco at 13, did time at juvenile hall for two felonies but was not deported - an oversight city and federal officials blame on one another.

The city's mayor, Gavin Newsom, reacted to the case by issuing an order in 2008 that any undocumented juvenile felony suspect - not just those convicted - be reported to immigration agents.

That has led him to a standoff with the Board of Supervisors and prompted a new debate over sanctuary cities.

The term "sanctuary city" is used as shorthand to describe any city that doesn't allow city staff or police to ask people about their status or report them to immigration authorities - with exceptions for suspected criminal activity and when state and federal law requires it.

Since the 1970s, many cities have adopted such policies, responding to complaints from Latino citizens about harassment and police chiefs who believe it better to encourage immigrant communities to trust police and report crime.

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