BART considers ‘sanctuary in transit’ policy

Two BART directors are seeking to develop a “sanctuary in transit” policy in order to limit the agency’s cooperation with the federal government over issues related to passengers’ immigration status.

At Thursday’s BART board meeting, directors Lateefah Simon and Nick Josefowitz asked agency staff to investigate the possibility of drafting a policy for consideration by the board.

Simon said in a written statement:

“The policy would direct BART to join with other cities and counties in BART’s service area, and limit collaboration between BART and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or other federal agencies. … This is driven by concerns that BART collaboration with federal enforcement would undermine trust between BART police and the communities they serve.”

Simon and Josefowitz asked that the potential policy discussion come before BART’s Operations and Safety Committee at its next meeting, which is scheduled for March 14 at 3 p.m.

While the new policy would formally guide police behavior with regards to interactions with federal agencies over questions of immigration status, the department currently does not call ICE and “there have been no instances of BART officers contacting or turning over anyone to immigration authorities” since at least 2011, according to BART spokesman Chris Philippi.

More than 400 cities and counties across the country have similar policies, including most jurisdictions in the Bay Area such as cities like San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Berkeley and counties like Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and Sonoma.