(Jim Clark) – Northern Nevadans are used to media stories about thousands of Bay Area button down millennials migrating annually to Black Rock Desert so they can go crazy at Burning Man. I just returned from a brief visit to San Francisco and it appears the serious crazies remain in the Bay Area and administer the wheels of government.
The story of beautiful young Kate Steinle being murdered by a five-time deported illegal immigrant and longtime felon Francisco Sanchez while walking the San Francisco Embarcadero hit like a lightning bolt. To add to the angst Sanchez had just been released from the slammer by San Francisco County Sheriff Mark Mirkarimi despite an “ICE” (Immigration, Customs and Enforcement) “hold” placed on him.
Mirkarimi has his own problems. His experience is political, not law enforcement, having served two terms as a Democrat on the San Francisco County Commission. His own deputies association endorsed another candidate. Adding to his woes was his indictment for domestic violence in 2012. He plead guilty to false imprisonment of his wife and was given probation plus prohibited from carrying a gun.
How could a five-time felon have walked out of jail? In 2013, San Francisco adopted a “sanctuary city” policy which restricts local police from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. Over 200 cities have adopted similar policies, the purpose of which is to rebuild trust between the police and illegal immigrants. The idea was that suspects whose law violation consists only of being here unlawfully would not be turned over to ICE for that reason alone. In Sanchez’ case he was picked up on an old warrant for possession of illegal drugs which was dismissed by local authorities. With no charges pending, Mirkarimi ignored the ICE hold and turned him loose. As a result Kate Steinle lost her life.
Donald Trump had just delivered his candidacy message charging that Mexico is sending illegals over the border who are drug lords, criminals and rapists. Condemnations of Trump for racism had just begun when the Steinle murder story broke. Politically, this was like walking into a parched pine forest with flame throwers.
Prominent Republicans including Jeb Bush, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee slammed sanctuary city policies. Hillary Clinton said: “the city was wrong not to deport someone that the federal government felt should be deported.” Her comment opened the liberal flood gates as a San Francisco Chronicle headline story reported California Democrat Senator Sen. Diane Feinstein’s scathing criticism of Sheriff Mirkarimi followed the next day by that of city Mayor Ed Lee.
Pollster Rasmussen reported that 79% of Republicans, 65% of non-partisans and 43% of Democrats want the federal government to step in and punish cities for essentially providing safe haven for illegal immigrants. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said: “Donald Trump has changed the debate on immigration . . . the story today is sanctuary cities.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R – AR) has introduced legislation to repeal sanctuary city laws and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly is heading a campaign for “Kate’s Law” which would impose a mandatory five year prison sentence for any previously deported illegal alien apprehended in the US, and punish state and local officials who do not enforce the law.
Is Limbaugh right? Are the GOP and independent voters right? Is O’Reilly right? Time will tell but a full exposition of the subject would not be complete without an explanation of the genesis of sanctuary city policies. Liberal cities view an ICE hold as making local police immigration enforcers. Cambridge, MA became a sanctuary city when it found 75% of ICE holds were placed on illegals with no criminal history. The practice also raises questions about 4th Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure.
Hopefully, this controversy will spawn a correct answer.
Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.