A man accused of mugging then spitting at a family of Filipino Americans is an illegal immigrant who was still loose on the streets of San Francisco because he was protected by that community’s sanctuary city policy — four separate times.
Carlos Claros already had a lengthy rap sheet and was even on probation at the time of the April attack, but San Francisco repeatedly refused to cooperate with ICE and released him after each run-in, The Washington Times has learned.
This time he approached a family of 18 people, including children, and tried to rob them at gunpoint, Patrick Elliott told ABC7, a San Francisco television station.
Mr. Elliott said he stood in between Claros and the rest of his family, prepared to take a bullet — and at some point during the altercation, he says, Claros said “Ugh, you Asian,” and spat at one of them.
“Nobody came over, nobody helped,” said Mr. Elliott, who wondered why the man was free on probation.
He might also have asked why Claros was in the U.S. at all.
“Not a single pro-sanctuary politician is saying that this is not the intent of their policy,” said Jon Feere, a former chief of staff at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They’re not saying that this shouldn’t have happened or that the policy should be adjusted to prevent something similar from happening again. The sanctuary policy operated exactly as designed, and they’re OK with innocent people being victimized.”
In this case, San Francisco Police Department officers responded and collared Claros and two confederates.
The attack, which has been listed as a hate crime by the National Asian Americans Pacific Islanders Coalition, marks a fascinating clash between two major themes of the American left: a possible hate crimes perpetrator who was in the country because of a sanctuary city policy.
The Washington Times reached out to Bay Area Asian American advocacy groups, including the NAAPIC that listed the incident as a hate crime, but none of them responded.
Don Rosenberg, whose son was killed by an illegal immigrant in a traffic collision in the Bay Area and who now runs Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime, said the incident shows how bad things have gotten in San Francisco.
“This is a no-brainer,” he said. “Turn him over to ICE.”
That’s not likely, however.
It’s not clear that this latest crime rises to the level of seriousness required for San Francisco to cooperate with ICE — and it’s not certain that ICE would be interested in Claros under the new Biden administration deportation rules, which narrow the aperture for who’s a target for enforcement.
“An administration that cared about public safety would call out San Francisco for this reckless practice. Unfortunately, the Biden administration sees no problem with what happened and has implemented its own, nationwide sanctuary policy that results in the release of criminal aliens into our communities on a daily basis,” Mr. Feere said.
Claros’ criminal history, reported by Dion Lim, an anchor at ABC7 in San Francisco, includes multiple burglary arrests, domestic violence charges, receiving stolen property, drug possession and what the station called “a strong-armed robbery spree” in 2019. He was on probation at the time of the April robbery attempt on the family.
ICE placed its first detainer in October 2018 after Claros was convicted of battery and receiving stolen property, “but due to local sanctuary laws, the detainer was not honored,” the agency told The Times.
More detainers followed arrests or convictions in December 2018, February 2019 and April 2020. Each time San Francisco again declined to honor the fellow law enforcement agency’s request.
The case comes as San Francisco, whose population is one-third Asian, is on edge over rising reports of attacks on Asians amid the coronavirus pandemic.
San Francisco’s new sheriff, Paul M. Miyamoto, is the first Asian American to hold the post. His spokeswoman, in response to questions from The Times, sent a link to the county’s sanctuary policy.
The spokeswoman did not respond to specific questions about the department’s decision not to honor detainers, and did not respond to a follow-up inquiry.
San Francisco has one of the country’s oldest sanctuary policies, and perhaps one of the most well-known, thanks to a 2015 incident, also on the city’s waterfront, where an illegal immigrant shot and killed 32-year-old Kate Steinle. Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate had been deported five times before and ICE had sought to deport him again but San Francisco had released him.
Then-candidate Donald Trump, making early waves in the GOP presidential primary, elevated her case into a national call-to-action against sanctuary policies.
It’s not clear how Claros, 22, arrived in the U.S., though given his age and his criminal record dating back at least three years, it’s possible he came as part of a family unit or what the government calls an unaccompanied alien child (UAC).
He has eight current charges listed against him, according to the sheriff’s department’s inmate locator, including five that seem to stem from the April incident: Possession of a firearm by a felon, having a concealed firearm in a vehicle, carrying a loaded firearm, resisting authorities and making criminal threats.
His next court date is July 14.