San Francisco’s Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is defending the intentional April release of five-times-deported Mexican national Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who has since confessed to the Wednesday shooting death of a young woman at Pier 14.
Sheriff Mirkarimi appeared agitated as he spoke to San Francisco-based KRON 4 News, casting blame on U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for not filing a formal court application to detain Lopez-Sanchez. In a separate CNN interview, Mirkarimi defended his refusal of ICE detainers. He called ICE policy the “imperfect deportation and transferring of people.”
It is San Francisco Sheriff’s department policy to deny all ICE detainer requests. He indicated that he only honors court orders.
Mirkarimi also told CNN’s Jake Tapper that sanctuary city policies “make us safer.”
ICE had begun processing the reinstatement of Lopez-Sanchez’s removal order before the prisoner was transferred on March 26 from a Bureau of Prisons facility in Victorville to San Francisco Sheriff’s custody pursuant to an old drug warrant.
ICE was informed of the transfer afterwards and alternatively issued a detainer request for the prisoner.
A San Francisco court dismissed Lopez-Sanchez’s drug charge on March 27.
On April 15, 2015, authorities dismissing the ICE request for detention released the seven-time convicted felon Lopez-Sanchez onto the streets.
Two-and-a-half months later, Lopez-Sanchez–by his own confession–shot and killed 32-year-old Katie Steinle, an admission he made since being brought into law enforcement custody. Had the ICE detainer been honored back in March and Lopez-Sanchez taken into ICE custody, Katie Steinle would likely still be alive today.
Lopez-Sanchez says he chose San Francisco for its sanctuary city policies and avoiding another deportation.
Mirkarimi also seized the opportunity to hop on the bash-Donald-Trump bandwagon, slamming the 2016 Presidential candidate and real estate mogul. “I think Donald Trump is an opportunist and I think he’s trying to capitalize on the misfortune of others,” Mirkarimi told KRON.
Trump’s comments on immigrants from Mexico during his campaign announcement brought harsh criticism in the mainstream media, and prompted several business partners to sever relations.
An ICE statement on the release of Lopez-Sanchez and refusal of the detainer request read, “ICE places detainers on aliens arrested on criminal charges to ensure dangerous criminals are not released from prisons or jails into our communities. The agency remains committed to working collaboratively with its law enforcement partners to ensure the public’s safety.”
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