The slaying of a Bay Area woman by an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times and sought refuge in San Francisco is pushing Republicans in Congress to foment legislative solutions to “sanctuary cities.”
According to the city’s sanctuary ordinance, “no department, agency, commission, officer or employee of the City and County of San Francisco shall use any City funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law or to gather or disseminate information regarding the immigration status of individuals in the City and County of San Francisco unless such assistance is required by federal or State statute, regulation or court decision.” About 200 jurisdictions across the country have similar policies.
Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez had an outstanding felony warrant for marijuana possession but was released by authorities in March. Last week he was arrested in the pier shooting of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), chairman of the Senate Border Security Caucus and deputy chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration Subcommittee, yesterday introduced an amendment to block federal law enforcement funds from being distributed to sanctuary cities.
“Recent tragic events have clearly been a direct result of the Administration’s failure to deport dangerous illegal aliens,” Vitter said. “Dangerous criminals are getting a free pass to live in our country because President Obama is putting his political agenda ahead of public safety.”
Judiciary Committee Republicans wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson this week demanding numbers on how many illegal immigrants have been arrested or convicted of crimes and how many remain in the United States today.
“Your Department has refused to confront so-called ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions, endangering the public safety and leading to tragedies such as the recent killings of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco, California, and Angelica Martinez in Laredo, Texas. These deaths are the result of such sanctuary jurisdictions’ dangerous policies, and this Administration’s refusal to do anything to stop them,” the senators wrote. “Yet, rather than enhance the successful Secure Communities program, confront sanctuary jurisdictions, defend federal law enforcement’s legitimate use of detainers, request additional resources, or ask Congress for a legislative solution, your Department has unilaterally designed a program that will endanger the American people.”
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch this week asking her to end taxpayer-funded federal grants to jurisdictions that do not follow federal immigration removal policies.
“Any violent crime is tragic, but the fact that the senseless death in San Francisco arose directly from a ‘sanctuary city’ deliberately obstructing policies to remove illegal immigrants who have committed crimes is appalling and inexcusable,” said Shelby. “I strongly believe that interfering with the routine coordination of federal law enforcement is intolerable and potentially deadly to law-abiding American families.”
“…Municipalities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration laws simply should not receive the Department of Justice’s assistance funding.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he’s going to introduce legislation “that will say that when the federal government says we want someone detained, we want them turned over to us when you are done with them, that it actually happens.”
“They say the law is murky here. So I want to make it very explicit. San Francisco, you cannot break the law. And if you have someone who is here illegally, you have to turn them over to the immigration services. It needs to be explicit,” Paul told Fox last night. “…I would think that there would be repercussions for those who released this guy back into the public.”
In the House, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) this week introduced “Kate’s Law,” which mandates a five-year sentence for deported illegal immigrants who return.
“Steinle’s recent murder was heartbreaking and unconscionable,” Salmon said. “This case has reminded us of an unfortunate fact – Congress simply cannot afford to leave any ambiguity in statute while trusting the executive to prudently exercise its discretion. Congress must continue to sharpen existing law and demand accountability from the executive branch. Kate’s Law is a step toward that end.”
“By instituting mandatory minimums for those who illegally reenter our nation after already having been deported, we help dissuade those who so casually disregard our laws and continue to victimize Americans.”
Democrats, though, signaled they’re ready to play defense on sanctuary cities, arguing they’re helpful to public safety by ensuring that illegal immigrants feel safe enough to communicate with cops.
“It’s lamentable that the senseless and tragic act of violence that occurred in San Francisco is prompting a rush to judgment and finger pointing: we can and should do better,” Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley said. “Local governments should not be blamed for the federal government’s inability to fix our broken immigration system nor should they be held responsible for doing the federal government’s job.”