The recent murder of an innocent woman in San Francisco by a man who should have been deported has shocked and saddened our nation. Kathryn Steinle was killed July 1 by Francisco Lopez-Sanchez while she walked along a scenic pier with her father. The sad fact is that this senseless murder could have been easily prevented.
Prior to the murder, Lopez-Sanchez had been convicted of seven felonies and deported five times. However, San Francisco authorities recently refused to cooperate with requests to hold Lopez-Sanchez in jail until he could be transferred to federal custody. Instead, he was released in April by local authorities because of a city policy that allows officials to ignore federal requests to hold individuals who are illegally in the country and who have violated other laws. In media interviews given after he was arrested, Lopez-Sanchez admitted that he moved to San Francisco because he knew it was a so-called sanctuary city, and local officials would not cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Unfortunately, this heartbreaking story is not new. There are too many state and local jurisdictions that have policies or practices that prevent cooperation on criminal aliens. What’s worse, the administration’s lax enforcement of immigration laws does little to encourage cooperation by these jurisdictions. As a result, criminals who should be deported are being released into our communities.
Last week, members of the Judiciary Committee urged Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to rethink his department’s immigration priorities. I also implored Johnson and Attorney General Loretta Lynch to take action to reverse “sanctuary city” policies and restore programs that promote collaboration between local and federal officials.
As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I am organizing a hearing to examine the breakdowns in this administration’s policies that led to Steinle’s tragic death and other crimes committed that could have been avoided. This administration needs to enforce the laws on the books and hold communities accountable.