By Joe Guzzardi
May 31, 2016
Eight months after five-time deported, seven-time convicted felon Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez murdered Kate Steinle, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week to maintain its dangerous sanctuary policy. The city’s legislation severely limits local law enforcement from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement when the agency seeks to deport dangerous criminals, a stance it first adopted in 1989. Despite public outcry to tighten enforcement, the supervisors specified that only aliens charged with and convicted of a violent crime within the last seven years would be referred to ICE for removal.
Last year, then-Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi boasted about his compliance with the sanctuary policy when he said: “My long-held belief is that local law enforcement should not be in the civil immigration detainer business.” As a result, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office refused to prosecute Lopez-Sanchez for what authorities claimed was a decade-old minor drug possession case, and released him without notifying ICE. A few weeks later, Lopez-Sanchez killed Steinle as she walked along a San Francisco pier with her father.
San Francisco’s history as a sanctuary city—sanctuary for criminal aliens that federal law mandates be deported—is long, sad and ugly. In 2007, then-San Francisco Mayor and current California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom publicly announced that the city would not cooperate with federal immigration raids, even though few if any raids could be found on record. Newsom boldly crowed that San Francisco is a sanctuary city, “…make no mistake about it.” U.S. Senate candidate but then-San Francisco attorney general Kamala Harris fully supported Newsom.
The fatal fall-out from the Newsom-Harris criminal alien coddling and their federal law defiance was immediate. In an incident that should have caused San Francisco’s leaders to rethink their sanctuary enthusiasm, Edwin Ramos, an illegal Salvadoran immigrant and MS-13 gang member who had previously attacked a pregnant woman on a bus, shot and killed Tony Bologna, 48, and his sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16. Ramos, who San Francisco had earlier shielded from deportation for his gang-related assault and attempted robbery charges, incorrectly thought one of Bologna’s sons was a rival gangster.
If Bologna and Steinle’s murders didn’t wake up San Francisco’s supervisors, nothing ever will. In his statement after the vote, supervisor John Avalos hailed the board’s decision as one that everyone would be pleased with and one which insures that illegal immigrants would not lose access to jobs that might become available.
But San Franciscans are angry at the board’s defiance of public safety. Newly elected Sheriff Vicki Hennessy who campaigned on reversing San Francisco’s sanctuary law, trounced incumbent Mirkarimi in his re-election bid. A UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll found that 74 percent of Californians including two of three Hispanics oppose sanctuary cities. As for the jobs Avalos wants to protect for aliens, federal law prohibits illegal immigrants from working and also bars employers under the penalty of arrest and property seizure from hiring them.
In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act that bans sanctuary cities in any form. But President Obama has shown no intention of enforcing the 1996 law or virtually any other immigration enforcement legislation.
In a related development, last week the Steinle family filed a federal lawsuit which names the city, San Francisco county, former county Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, and the United States "for their failures to perform mandatory duties and/or for the unconstitutional and/or negligent acts and/or omissions of their officers, officials, agents and/or employees."
The Steinle case will force sanctuary supporters to defend the indefensible: their unshakeable and illegal commitment to putting aliens’ interests and political correctness ahead of citizens’ rights to protection from criminals.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected] or Tweet him @joeguzzardi19