One year ago today, Kate Steinle was killed in the sanctuary city of San Francisco, allegedly by a five-times deported illegal alien from Mexico with seven felony convictions on his record.
It is well-past time that sanctuary city policies come to an end, yet today there remain over 300 jurisdictions throughout the United States that shield illegal aliens from federal law enforcement. They're listed on my organization's interactive map. Despite public opposition to sanctuary policies, only weeks ago San Francisco largely upheld their dangerous policy to the applause of open-border advocates.
As a Bay Area native who has walked past Pier 14 in San Francisco's Embarcadero waterfront on many occasions, usually with family, the avoidable killing hit close to home. It took place in daylight, in a very public, business district area frequented by tourists and locals alike.
There is absolutely no reason Lopez-Sanchez should have been in the United States, not even under President Obama's lax immigration enforcement scheme which is supposed to, in the least, prioritize the removal of illegal aliens with a felony record.
But the borders are extremely porous. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez simply sneaked back into the country multiple times. Too many city officials are willing to accommodate such activity and provide a safe haven to anyone who successfully evades our Border Patrol. But the public certainly is not.
According to a poll conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, 74 percent of Californians oppose sanctuary city policies and believe state and local authorities should not ignore a request from the federal government to detain an individual in the country illegally. This includes 73 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of independents. Opposition to sanctuary policies crossed ethnic lines as well: 65 percent of Latinos, 75 percent of Asians and African-Americans, and 80 percent of whites do not support such policies.
But the city of San Francisco, along with many other cities, remains firmly on the side of illegal aliens and their advocates, caring not at all about the rule of law or the safety of their residents.
These officials include people who literally ran from media trying to ask questions about their sanctuary policy. They include people who blocked me on Twitter last year for simply inquiring about whether they'd issue a statement after Steinle's death. These are people whose policies have welcomed illegal aliens who have committed many other crimes, like the 2010 killing of Drew Rosenberg and the 2008 killings of Tony Bologna and his sons Michael and Matthew. As the father of Rosenberg told me, most city officials have done little to comfort the families who have suffered. It's no surprise that Steinle's family has filed a lawsuit against the city. San Francisco's officials should be ashamed of themselves.
But the federal government deserves plenty of blame as well. Over 925,000 illegal aliens have been ordered removed, but are still in the country. About 60 percent of these individuals come from four countries: Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Meanwhile, the Obama administration released 19,723 criminal aliens in 2015 and immigration enforcement has nosedived.
Votes on two bills to eliminate sanctuary cities is expected to happen on Capitol Hill very soon. It is time for Republicans and Democrats to make it clear whether they're on the side of lawbreaking foreigners or the American people.
Feere is the legal policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies.