Insecurity by the Bay
San Francisco tightens its policy to provide sanctuary to criminals
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.