In­se­cu­rity by the Bay

San Fran­cisco tight­ens its pol­icy to pro­vide sanc­tu­ary to crim­i­nals

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

The wheels of jus­tice turn slowly in some places, and in San Fran­cisco, for­tu­nately, they’re grind­ing in re­verse if only for the mo­ment. Bagh­dad by the Bay, as a fa­vorite colum­nist once called the city cel­e­brated for gai­ety and fri­vol­ity, is proud to be “a sanc­tu­ary city” to har­bor se­lected crim­i­nal sus­pects. Now even in “Bagh­dad” some of the cit­i­zens are fi­nally fed up with politi­cians who defy fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion law to en­able the law­less and the hunted to hide.

The San Fran­cisco Board of Su­per­vi­sors has re­luc­tantly agreed that the city’s sher­iff be al­lowed to an­swer the tele­phone when fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties call look­ing for a locked-up im­mi­grant. Pre­vi­ously jail­ers kept that in­for­ma­tion as guarded as if it were top se­cret, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for of­fi­cers of the U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment (ICE) to take cus­tody of il­le­gals sub­ject to de­por­ta­tion. If the city had a de­tainee with­out proper pa­pers but a “rap sheet” de­tail­ing his vi­o­lent crime, too bad. When his jail sen­tence was sat­is­fied, back on the street he went.

Some­times it takes a woman to do the job a man won’t. Sher­iff Vicki Hen­nessy, elected to re­place Sher­iff Ross Mirkarimi and his sanc­tu­ary scheme, ne­go­ti­ated a deal with the su­per­vi­sors that gives her the dis­cre­tion to in­form ICE when she was hold­ing a pris­oner con­victed of a se­ri­ous felony within the past five years. In re­turn, she agreed that a judge would rule whether there is prob­a­ble cause to hold the de­fen­dant be­fore no­ti­fy­ing ICE.

San Fran­cisco, a haven for il­le­gal im­mi­grants since 1989, was jolted from its ca­sual dis­re­gard of the law by the mur­der last sum­mer of Kate Steinle, 32, shot while strolling on a pier with her fa­ther, by an il­le­gal im­mi­grant from Mex­ico. He had been de­ported five times. Juan Fran­cisco Lopez-Sanchez told au­thor­i­ties that he set­tled in San Fran­cisco be­cause he knew the city’s pol­icy of never hav­ing to say good­bye to an il­le­gal im­mi­grant on the run. Ten months passed be­fore the city agreed to al­ter sanc­tu­ary even a lit­tle.

In re­sponse to a na­tional out­cry, “Kate’s Law” has been in­tro­duced in both houses of Con­gress, which would im­pose a five-year manda­tory min­i­mum sen­tence on de­ported il­le­gals who sneak back into the United States, and would deny fed­eral fund­ing for ju­ris­dic­tions that refuse to co­op­er­ate with ICE. Democrats have so far blocked the leg­is­la­tion.

More than 300 cities across the coun­try have de­clined to en­force fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion law. Lib­eral of­fice­hold­ers who re­gard the Con­sti­tu­tion as merely the work of dead white men are all for dis­man­tling its pro­tec­tions.

Choos­ing which laws to en­force and other laws to dis­re­gard is the work of politi­cians serv­ing spe­cial in­ter­ests rather than the com­mon good. San Fran­cisco’s re­vi­sion of its sanc­tu­ary poli­cies re­flects pub­lic out­rage. Whether by a bor­der wall or some other ef­fec­tive means, Amer­i­cans have a right to be se­cure in their place or per­son.

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