How to file a Sanctuary City Ordinance Complaint



What is the Sanctuary City Ordinance?

In 1989, San Francisco passed the Sanctuary City Administrative Code 12H, also known as the Sanctuary City Ordinance ("SCO"). The SCO prohibits the use of City funds or resources to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement with arrests and/or the gathering or dissemination of information regarding the immigration status of an individual in San Francisco, unless it is mandated by federal or state law, warrant, or court decision. The SCO specifically states that City and County of San Francisco employees:

    • Cannot ask about an individual’s immigration status;
    • Cannot disclose information regarding an individual’s immigration status; and
    • Cannot condition services based on an individual’s immigration status.

HRC is charged with implementing the Sanctuary City Ordinance by assisting the public in filing, mediating, and investigating complaints of non-compliance with the ordinance.

Sanctuary City

The view the Sanctuary City Ordinance in its entirety, choose from the following translations:

Other resources: 

Special Note on HRC's Support of the Trust Act: The HRC is also proud to join the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in supporting AB 1081, The Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (TRUST) Act. Introduced by Assembly-member Tom Ammiano, this bill seeks to rebuild relationships between local law enforcement and immigrant communities by establishing statewide standards for responding to burdensome ICE hold requests. As the agency responsible for enforcing the Sanctuary City Ordinance, HRC welcomes this proposed law as an mechanism to assist our work to increase public safety and end racial and national origin profiling. For more information, view the HRC's letter in support of the TRUST Act.

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 How do I file a Complaint under the Sanctuary City Ordinance?


Step 1: Contact the HRC by phone, in writing, or in person.
Step 2: Schedule an intake interview and bring any documentation supporting the claim.

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What happens after I file a complaint under the Sanctuary City Ordinance?

Depending on the nature of the case, a letter of concern or a formal complaint is sent to the respondent (department, agency, or commission), who will be required to respond in writing. After the respondent’s response is received, an HRC staff member will attempt to resolve the complaint through mediation. The mediation can occur with all parties in the same room or through separate meetings with the mediator. If mediation is successful and both parties reach an agreement, the HRC will close the case. If mediation fails or is rejected by one or all parties, an HRC staff may conduct a formal investigation. If there is sufficient evidence of a violation, the HRC may issue a Director’s Finding of Non-Compliance with the SCO. Upon making a Director's Finding, the HRC can forward it to the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor’s Office.  A Director’s Finding may be appealed by the non-prevailing party to the HRC. Please contact the HRC for further information on the appeal process.

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 Can I remain anonymous through complaint process?

Yes, a complainant may choose to remain anonymous through out the complaint process.

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Will I be required to pay any fees to file a complaint?

No, all services pursuant to this process are free and confidential.

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Who do I contact for more information or to file a complaint?

 For more information about the Sanctuary City Ordinance or to file a complaint, please contact Zoe Polk at (415) 252.2517 or

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