After Kate Steinle and Marilyn Pharis’ brutal murders in San Francisco and Santa Maria, momentum is at long last building toward ending the too-often deadly sanctuary city policy. In sanctuary cities, of which there are more than 250 nationwide and about 35 in California including San Francisco and Santa Maria, local police refuse to honor detention requests or cooperate in any other way with federal immigration officials. Consequently, in incidents separated by only three weeks, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez and Victor Aureliano Martinez, illegal aliens, have been charged with killing Steinle and Pharis.
As the details spread from coast to coast about how two innocent women senselessly lost their lives, the public directed its outrage at city leaders and at the White House for tolerating sanctuary cities that illegally provide safe haven to aliens. Republican presidential candidates took up the cry to ban sanctuary cities, and the House of Representatives passed legislation that would defund them.
The uproar resulted in four Bay Area counties—Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Mateo—announcing that they would notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement when inmates identified for possible deportation are about to be released.
Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern said his officers want to help ICE and allow them to do their jobs. During the past seven weeks, Alameda County has alerted ICE about 100 inmates and federal agents took 20 into custody. San Francisco, however, refuses to budge. In his arrogant email, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said he will continue to ignore ICE. Mirkarimi said disingenuously that his department has a policy that forbids cooperation, and San Francisco has a city ordinance that requires due process for all its residents.
By refusing to assist ICE, however, Mirkarimi is violating an existing federal law. Passed in 1996 under President Bill Clinton, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act requires municipal officials to, upon request, exchange immigration information with federal authorities.
Sanctuary cities will stay in the spotlight for months to come. This week, the Steinle family announced that will take legal action against Mirkarimi, ICE, and the Bureau of Land Management for its agent’s failure to secure the gun that fell into Lopez-Sanchez’s hand and fired, fatally wounding Kate. The Steinle family insists that if all parties had done their jobs, Kate would not have been murdered by the five-time deported, seven-time felon Lopez-Sanchez. Frank Pitre, the lawyer representing the Steinles said, in a reference to San Francisco’s sanctuary city status, that Kate’s murder on Pier 14 murder was “foreseeable” but “preventable."
Kate’s brother Brad told reporters that he hopes the lawsuit, if successful, will return San Francisco to a place where people will be safe. More cities than San Francisco would benefit if sanctuary cities are banned. Santa Maria, where Pharis was raped, choked and beaten to death with a hammer, has a 70 percent Hispanic population. The city, because of its sanctuary policies, and with encouragement from the agriculture industry, has attracted large numbers of illegal immigrants who provide cheap labor and large profits.
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 Californian for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]