- The Washington Times - Monday, July 6, 2015

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee said Monday he was “concerned” about the release of an illegal immigrant with a criminal record who killed a woman last week but defended the sanctuary city policy.

“I am concerned about the circumstances that led to the release of Mr. Sanchez,” Mr. Lee said in a statement. “All agencies involved, Federal and local, need to conduct quick, thorough and objective reviews of their own departmental policies and the decisions they made in this case.”

He stressed that the sanctuary city policy is intended to protect “residents regardless of immigration status and is not intended to protect repeat, serious and violent felons.”

“Our city’s policy helps immigrant and limited-English speaking communities where sometimes people fear and mistrust the criminal justice system,” Mr. Lee said. “We want people to report crimes, we want children of undocumented immigrants to attend school, and we want families to get access to much needed social services without fear of their city government reporting them to Federal authorities.”

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office released in March Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a seven-time felon who had been deported five times, despite a federal detainer request. Last week, he shot and killed Kathryn Steinle, 32, as she walked with her father on San Francisco’s Pier 14.



Mr. Lopez-Sanchez told KGO-TV that he shot her but that it was an accident. He also said he was aware that San Francisco was a sanctuary city where he would not be pursued by immigration authorities.

San Francisco’s policy forbids local law enforcement with cooperating with federal immigration detainers unless the suspect has been convicted of a violent felony like murder or sexual assault.

“Our sanctuary policies should not create a safe harbor for convicted, violent felons,” Mr. Lee said.

He also took a swipe at Republicans in Congress for blocking pro-amnesty comprehensive immigration reform bills.

“Even after repeated attempts by President Obama and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to reform our immigration laws, Republicans in Congress have blocked those efforts, unfortunately, leaving cities and local municipalities to act upon immigration issues that affect its residents,” Mr. Lee said.

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