In memory of Katie Steinle, it's time to finally shut down 'sanctuary cities'

In memory of Katie Steinle, it's time to finally shut down 'sanctuary cities'
© Getty Images

San Francisco is once again the epicenter of the sanctuary city debate with the beginning of the sad and explosive trial of one of the most well-known and infamous illegal aliens in U.S. history. Juan Garcia Zarate (also known as Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez), an illegal alien from Mexico with seven felony convictions and five deportations, is on trial for the murder of 32 year-old Kate Steinle. Steinle was allegedly gunned down in broad daylight as she walked arm in arm with her father near the city’s Embarcadero district.

Just months before the shooting, instead of being deported, Garcia Zarate was released from jail and allowed back onto the streets due to San Francisco’s controversial and illegal sanctuary policies. Not surprisingly, when asked why he repeatedly returned to San Francisco, Zarate told local authorities that the city attracted him because of its sanctuary policies.

For many Americans, this senseless murder was regarded as something that could have easily been prevented through adequate border enforcement and a firm federal crackdown on sanctuary cities. On the one hand, Steinle’s death served as a wake-up call for the nation, made immigration reform a rallying cry and helped to propel Donald Trump to the Oval Office.

ADVERTISEMENT
But sadly, many California pols were more than happy to turn a deaf ear to the suffering of the Steinle family, as well as the cries from other parents across the country who had lost loved ones to illegal aliens shielded by sanctuary policies. To them, Steinle was simply an acceptable loss on the altar of open borders.

 

Just three months after Steinle’s murder, San Francisco, her hometown, revisited the sanctuary issue and instead of scrapping the dangerous policy, doubled down on its commitment to remain a sanctuary city. By a unanimous vote, the board of supervisors embraced the longstanding policy of releasing criminal illegal aliens back onto the streets instead of notifying Immigration and Customs Enforcement so that they can be removed from the country.

The California General Assembly demonstrated equal empathy for the Steinle family, with the passage of a bill that designated California as a sanctuary state. California Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula exclaimed that the bill would ensure that “California is a safe place for immigrants,” begging the question of what, if any, value is being placed on the lives of native-born Americans and legal residents.

It’s not just in the Golden State that sanctuary fever has caught on. At the beginning of this year, FAIR estimated that there were roughly 300 sanctuary cities and jurisdictions across the nation. Unbelievably, that number has now grown to an estimated 500, according to a list compiled by the Ohio Jobs and Justice Political Action Committee, a group that has tracked the issue for a decade. Not surprisingly, 101 of them are in California.

Thankfully, there’s some good news too. President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Surveillance warrant docs show that Nunes memo 'misrepresented and distorted these applications' Chicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Ex-Trump aide: Surveillance warrants are 'complete ignorance' and 'insanity' MORE campaigned on ridding the nation of dangerous sanctuary cities and his attorney general, Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsData confirm that marijuana decriminalization is long overdue The FIRST STEP Act sets up a dangerous future The Sessions DOJ is working to end the great asylum hustle MORE, has promised to “claw back” key federal funds from sanctuary jurisdictions. Several cities including Miami, Florida and Dayton, Ohio, dropped their sanctuary policies to avoid losing precious federal funding. The state of Texas recently passed anti-sanctuary legislation forbidding sanctuary policies across the state, and other states, are following suit.

There is also renewed action and commitment to fight dangerous sanctuary jurisdictions on the federal level. Two bills with strong bipartisan support recently passed the House of Representatives. They are now awaiting action in the Senate and there is hope that they will soon be scheduled for a vote, despite an already crowded agenda.

Kate's Law,” named in memory of Kate Steinle, would increase current maximum sentences for illegal reentry into the United States. The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act clarifies ICE detainer authority to hold criminal aliens for up to 48 hours so they can be handed over to ICE. At the same time, it holds state and local governments responsible for so-called sanctuary policies that protect deportable criminal aliens from being removed from the country. Additionally, the bill also protects jurisdictions that comply with detainers from being sued, while allowing victims of crime to sue jurisdictions that refuse to comply and subsequently release criminal aliens onto the streets.

The sanctuary issue might be popular with the open border pols in California, but public sentiment is clearly on the side of immigration enforcement. According to a recent Zogby poll of 11 key swing states, three out of four registered voters believe that police and sheriffs must comply with detainer requests by ICE, with Hispanic voters showing considerably stronger support. By equal margins, voters believe sanctuary jurisdictions must be held accountable for crimes committed by people who were released into the community because of those policies.

While these laws won’t be able to bring back the loved ones lost by misguided sanctuary policies, they will go a long way in preventing future heartbreak for families who needlessly lose a loved one to someone here illegally.

Dave Ray is director of communication at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a nonprofit aimed at promoting legal immigration.