Sanctuary Cities Highlighted in GOP Debate

sanctuary cities

California’s Bay Area was given a spotlight during last night’s GOP presidential debates when the question of sanctuary cities was raised, stemming from the shooting death of Kate Steinle, 32, of Pleasanton by an illegal immigrant who is a five-time deportee and repeat felon.

Chris Bettencourt submit the question via Facebook, which was asked of candidate Ted Cruz by Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace: “Doug Bettencourt sent this question: ‘Will you support Kate Steinle’s Law,’ which would impose a mandatory five-year prison term for an illegal who is deported and then returns to this country? And will you defund sanctuary cities for violating federal law?'”

As the San Francisco Chronicle points out, it was Donald Trump who had originally raised the issue using his Twitter feed to condemn the incident, calling upon Ted Cruz to take a stand against illegal immigration and denounce the nation’s sanctuary cities.

Cruz said he supports the defunding of sanctuary cities. “I authored and filed legislation for Kate’s Law, and just last week tried to get the Senate to pass it. But the leader of our own party blocked it. The problem is that most of our party don’t want to enforce immigration laws.” Fox News host Bill O’Reilly first pitched the legislation known as “Kate’s Law” on his program and created an online petition for supporters to sign.

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush had stated earlier in the debate that “[W]e need to eliminate the sanctuary cities in this country. It is ridiculous and tragic.” His reply came in response to Wallace’s question about Bush’s comment suggesting that crossing the border illegally was “an act of love.”

WALLACE: Governor Bush, you released a new plan this week on illegal immigration focusing on enforcement, which some suggest is your effort to show that you’re not soft on that issue. I want to ask you about a statement that you made last year about illegal immigrants. And here’s what you said. “They broke the law, but it’s not a felony, it’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family.” Do you stand by that statement and do you stand by your support for earned legal status?

BUSH: I do. I believe that the great majority of people coming here illegally have no other option. They want to provide for their family. But we need to control our border. It’s not — it’s our responsibility to pick and choose who comes in.

California’s overwhelmingly liberal population has come out in support of President Obama’s amnesty. The Golden State is home to dozens of sanctuary cities, which provide shelter to illegal immigrants. Alameda County resident Lynnda Tozier told the Chronicle that when deciding which candidate she will vote for, she is “looking for something in between amnesty and the process for citizenship.” She added, “I don’t mind them coming over.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.