An immigration debate is heating up as news unravels about the man arrested and charged with killing a 31-year-old woman on San Francisco’s Pier 14 last week. It has been reported that the man had been deported five times and had more than 20 years of history of run-ins with the law — including a run-in just months before the latest incident that landed him in jail.
Many are asking, what was he doing on the streets of San Francisco if this was the case?
Federal immigration officials say that the practices that have made San Francisco a “sanctuary city” allowed this “preventable” crime to take place.
“If the local authorities had merely NOTIFIED [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] that they were about to release this individual into the community, ICE could have taken custody of him and had him removed from the country — thus preventing this terrible tragedy,” ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said in a statement.
On July 1, Kate Steinle, 31, was walking along Pier 14, taking pictures with her father around 6:30 pm when a gunshot rang out, fatally wounding her in the chest, the Washington Post reported.
Police arrested Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, 45, in connection with the killing and charged him.
In March, Lopez-Sanchez had been released from federal custody and handed over to local authorities to face drug charges. Those charges were later dropped and he was released from San Francisco County Jail on April 15.
Before Lopez-Sanchez’s release, ICE officials filed an “immigration detainer,” which requests that local authorities notify federal officials prior to releasing him from jail.
But in keeping with long-standing policy, the San Francisco Sheriff’s department ignored the request.
In a statement, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department said that when Lopez-Sanchez was booked in jail, there was no “active ICE warrant or judicial order of removal for him.”