By Joe Guzzardi
The heartbreaking tragedy of young Kate Steinle, shot to death in the sanctuary city of San Francisco by a five-times deported, seven-times convicted illegal alien felon, will continue to unfold for weeks.
Arraigned on Monday, Mexican national Francisco Sanchez retracted his jail house confession and pleaded not guilty. And in a stunning development, multiple sources report that the gun Sanchez used to kill Steinle is registered to a federal agent. Sanchez claimed that he found the firearm wrapped in a t-shirt near the park bench that he was sitting on.
The nation is outraged that U.S. immigration laws have been flouted for years, and that the White House and Congress’ purposeful neglect has spawned sanctuary cities like San Francisco. Sanctuary cities, it should be noted, violate the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA), a fact that the Obama administration has ignored as part of its widespread immigration law-dismantling. Governor Jerry Brown’s 2014 Trust Act, which converted California into a sanctuary state, compounded an already grave problem.
Julie Myers Woods, a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement assistant secretary rebutted advocates’ arguments that sanctuary cities protect the community and enhance public safety. Woods said that sanctuary does exactly the opposite—they put communities at risk—and that the Steinle case is the most recent in a long history of agonizing examples. According to the Department of Homeland Security, from 2010 to 2014, 121 criminal illegal aliens released while awaiting deportation, were later charged with homicide.
Although it’s cold comfort to Steinle’s family, Kate’s death has jolted state and federal lawmakers into action. In California, Republican State Sen. Jeff Stone announced this week that he’s authoring a bill which would mandate that all the state’s cities and counties fully cooperate with federal immigration officials in accordance with IIRAIRA.
In his press release, Stone said that if California had a law in effect to ban sanctuary cities and to keep such cities from releasing previously convicted alien felons like Sanchez, Steinle would be alive today. Stone’s legislation would require prisoners identified by the Department of Homeland Security as unlawful immigrants and already in the city’s custody to be held for 48 to allow their safe transfer to ICE.
And in Congress, the House and Senate have introduced companion bills. Similar to Stone’s bill, HR 1148 and S 1640 would require state and local governments to comply with federal immigration detainers. They would also expand and restore interior enforcement which has been nearly non-existent under the Obama administration. State and local authorities would also be empowered to enforce federal immigration laws as well as their own local laws assuming they’re consistent with the federal code. The proposed legislation would end DHS grants to sanctuary cities and bar the unauthorized release of criminal aliens. The bills are also known as the Davis-Oliver Act, so named in honor of the two Sacramento County deputies shot and killed last year by a multiple-times deported alien Marcelo Marquez.
For years and under both Republican and Democratic-controlled Congresses and White Houses, sanctuary programs have harbored aliens and enabled illegal immigrant crime. Through lax enforcement, Obama has converted the United States into a sanctuary nation.
Anti-sanctuary legislation, should it pass, would come too late to save Steinle and the hundreds more illegal immigrant crime victims. But laws to prohibit sanctuary status would, with sufficient political will behind them, protect millions of vulnerable Americans for many years to come.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1987. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe Guzzardi ©2015 Joe Guzzardi and Capsweb.org. This column is distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.