Kathryn Steinle was killed on a pier in San Francisco on July 1, allegedly by a troubled immigrant who had a stolen gun and a long criminal history and had been deported five times. The shooting was inexplicable, yet Ms. Steinle’s family and friends have been shunning talk of politics and vengeance, while expressing the hope that some good might emerge from this tragedy.
The shooting has turned the usual American tensions over immigration into a frenzy. The accused, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, has become the dark-skinned face of the Mexican killers that Donald Trump — in a racist speech announcing his presidential campaign, and numerous interviews thereafter — has been warning the nation about.
Mr. Lopez-Sanchez was a repeat illegal border-crosser with a drug record, but he somehow ended up back on the street. His case led to epic rounds of blame-shifting last week, as the various government agencies that had Mr. Lopez-Sanchez in their custody at some point — like the San Francisco sheriff’s office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — tried to explain why this wasn’t their fault. Right-wing commenters and politicians, shamelessly willing to scapegoat 11 million unauthorized immigrants as a criminal class and national-security threat, were pointing fingers at anyone and everyone, from President Obama on down.
So what’s the problem? We’re better than that:
Lost in the screaming were the sound reasons that cities and localities shun the role of immigration enforcers. They are balancing public safety with a respect for civil rights and the Constitution. San Francisco had received an ICE request, called a detainer, to hold Mr. Lopez-Sanchez, but detainers are unconstitutional; a person can’t be held without charge just for ICE’s convenience. Turning the local police and sheriff’s deputies into de facto ICE agents heightens fear and distrust in immigrant communities, which makes fighting crime harder.
No greater concern troll in the country right now than the New York Times.