The senseless, random murder of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle last week, allegedly by illegal alien Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, has shocked the city of San Francisco and outraged the nation.
The alleged murderer was free because of a local policy and state law that prevent cooperation with federal immigration detainers—and because of a federal government that encourages such disobedience.
Though only Lopez-Sanchez will face a court, Governor Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and President Barack Obama must share the blame, along with local officials.
Lopez-Sanchez, who had been deported to Mexico five times and has seven prior felony convictions, had been booked into San Francisco County Jail on drug charges in March. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer was issued, which local authorities ignored. Sanchez was then released in April, having served his federal time on other charges.
San Francisco has been a “sanctuary city”—one offering lax immigration law enforcement—since 1989, the San Francisco Chronicle notes. But in recent years, local officials have been even more aggressive in defying federal immigration law, pushed from below by radical groups and from above by the Obama administration.
San Francisco County Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was very proud of his anti-deportation policies, which he recounted in an Oct. 2014 press release:
Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi announces that effective immediately; the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department will no longer honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers unless they are supported by judicial determination of probably cause or with a warrant of arrest….
In early 2013, Sheriff Mirkarimi revised the Sheriff’s Department ICE detainer practice, significantly limiting holds eligible for release to ICE authorities. This revision reduced the number of individuals released to ICE authorities by 62 percent. Only one other county in California had a policy of similar strength.
San Francisco furthered its commitment to immigration reform in November 2013. Sheriff Mirkarimi supported and enforced the “Due Process For All” ordinance passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, extending further limits on the criteria for individuals facing ICE detainers….
Sheriff Mirkarimi added: “My long-held belief is that local law enforcement should not be in the civil immigration detainer business.”
Thanks to that long-held belief, aimed at forcing America to scrap its immigration laws and open its borders, Lopez-Sanchez was on the street and Kathryn Steinle is dead. Mirkarimi and Mayor Ed Lee are now reportedly passing the buck to each other.
But they are not the only ones to blame.
In 2013, the State of California passed the “Trust Act,” which expanded local discretion in cooperating with immigration authorities, and states that only illegal aliens accused of serious felonies can be handed over to ICE for possible deportation. The law was written by State Assemblyman. Tom Ammiano and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The goal, ostensibly, was to increase “trust” between police and immigrant communities. As Breitbart News noted at the time, its real purpose was to push national immigration reform.
Attorney General Kamala Harris supports the Trust Act, and the San Francisco Chronicle notes that she continued to defend it in the wake of the Steinle murder.
Harris is now running for U.S. Senator to replace the outgoing Democrat Barbara Boxer, who in 2010 supported President Obama’s decision to fight the State of Arizona over its controversial immigration bill, SB 1070, which enabled state and local law enforcement to ask detainees about their immigration status.
The law was overturned by the Supreme Court—not because allowing officers to ask people about their immigration status was “racist,” but because state authority could not supersede federal authority.
President Obama showed himself perfectly capable of confronting states that go their own way on immigration policy. But Obama has never challenged California’s defiance.
He therefore shares in the blame for letting Steinle’s killer stalk the streets of San Francisco.
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