By Joe Guzzardi
July 5, 2016
July 1 marked one-year since five-time deported, seven-time convicted illegal alien Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez killed Kate Steinle on popular San Francisco Pier 14. Steinle had been strolling along the tourist site with her father when Lopez-Sanchez shot her.
Steinle’s murder set off national outrage about sanctuary cities like San Francisco that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials and have harbored thousands of criminal aliens over the years. ICE had requested an immigration detainer on Lopez-Sanchez, but the S.F. Sheriff’s office ignored it even though federal law explicitly prohibits sanctuary cities. Six weeks after the sheriff’s office released Lopez-Sanchez, he killed Steinle.
Had San Francisco authorities complied with the ICE detainer, Lopez-Sanchez may have been deported, and Steinle might still be alive. A sanctuary city's lure to an illegal alien is undeniable. In his interview with ABC shortly after he was arrested, Lopez-Sanchez admitted that he had established residency in San Francisco specifically because he knew it was a sanctuary city and knew that the city would not turn him in to immigration enforcement.
Steinle’s preventable death is part of a decades-long, well established enforcement avoidance pattern in sanctuary cities that give free reign to criminal aliens. Since California has more illegal immigrants than any other state, the risk to its citizens is particularly high. In 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Trust Act which gave San Francisco and dozens of other cities discretion in deciding whether to comply with immigration authorities.The Trust Act effectively converted California into a sanctuary state.
Rarely a month passes without the tragic news of another California fatality perpetrated by illegal immigrants, many of them 18th Street and Mexican Mafia gang members. Police officers cannot inquire about their immigration status even though they often recognize previously deported gang members. Illegal re-entry is a felony, but sanctuary policies and the Trust Act have tied local law enforcement’s hands.
A recent report from California Attorney General Kamala Harris showed that violent crime in the state increased 10 percent last year overall with homicides up 9.7 percent, robberies, 8.5 percent and aggravated assaults, 8 percent. Rapes rose a shocking 36 percent. Harris didn’t elaborate on the reasons behind the crime spike, but sanctuary policies and the Trust Act that protect criminal aliens must be considered factors.
Despite the public outcry since Steinle’s murder and the obvious risk to innocent Americans that releasing known criminal aliens represents, Congress has failed to act to end sanctuary cities. But two anti-sanctuary bills are scheduled to get a vote this week. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA.) and Ted Cruz (R-TX.) have introduced, respectively, S. 3100, the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, which would block sanctuary cities from receiving some federal funding and S. 2193, Kate's Law, that would increase criminal penalties for illegal aliens who re-enter the country following removal. Kate’s Law would also impose mandatory minimum jail sentences for aggravated felons or repeat offenders.
The bills face stiff opposition from the usual cast of characters, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV.) and Gang of Eight champions Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Robert Menendez, (D-NJ) and Richard Durbin, (D-Ill.)
When sanctuary cities wantonly provide safe haven to illegal aliens, they knowingly and willingly put Americans at risk, an inexcusable violation of their oaths of office to protect the citizens that elected them.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at joeguzzardi19