The White House blamed congressional Republicans Monday for the death of a San Francisco woman allegedly shot by a repeat offender illegal immigrant, and for a spate of gun violence last weekend in President Obama’s hometown of Chicago.
Referring to the shooting death last week of Kathryn Steinle, allegedly shot by a Mexican man who has been deported five times, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the U.S. would be safer if Republican lawmakers had approved comprehensive immigration reform backed by the president.
“The president has done everything within his power to make sure that we’re focusing our law enforcement resources on criminals and those who pose a threat to public safety,” Mr. Earnest said. “It’s because of the political efforts of Republicans that we have not been able to make the kind of investment that we would like to make in securing our border and keeping our communities safe.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, said Sunday that the Obama administration shares responsibility with San Francisco authorities for the release of the illegal immigrant, Francisco Sanchez, who has an extensive criminal record.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which had Lopez-Sanchez in its custody in March after his release from federal prison, turned him over to San Francisco deputies on a drug warrant and requested an immigration detainer, asking that the agency be notified before he was released.
But San Francisco is a “sanctuary” city that doesn’t honor such immigration detainer requests. The sheriff’s department released him.
SEE ALSO: Kathryn Steinle killing fuels outrage over Democrats’ deportation opposition
Ms. Steinle was shot at random as she walked on a busy pier with her father last Wednesday.
“The federal government and San Francisco are wrong here,” Mr. Goodlatte told ABC’s “This Week.” “There’s fault to be borne by both. Why did they ever turn him over to (San Francisco) when they could have deported him?”
Mr. Earnest, who declined to comment on the specifics of the San Francisco case, chastised “people [who] want to play politics with this.”
“Those critics are individuals who opposed legislation that would have actually made a historic investment in border security,” Mr. Earnest said.
On the shootings in Chicago, where 10 people were killed over the Independence Day holiday weekend, the White House said gun-control measures opposed by Republicans would help to stem such violence.
“Eventually, it’s going to require the American people speaking up and speaking out, and making clear to Congress this is an issue that they’re going to cast a vote on,” Mr. Earnest said. “There are common sense steps that Congress can take that would — that would make our streets safer; make it harder for criminals and those who shouldn’t have guns from getting their hands on them.”
SEE ALSO: Francisco Sanchez admits shooting woman, knew San Francisco would not detain him
Chicago has some of the toughest gun restrictions in the nation. In 2013, the Senate rejected an effort to require background checks on all gun purchases.