Facts do MATTER so let’s stop the misinformation, political grandstanding and finger pointing that feeds right into the unjust, dehumanizing and racist stereotypes that many in this country hold towards mostly hardworking and harmless non-white immigrants. The absence of a “sanctuary” policy in San Francisco would NOT have stopped Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez from returning 5 times to the United States after being deported. Even if San Francisco’s Sheriff had detained him for ICE (with or unlawfully without a warrant) for the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, or 10th time, Lopez could have just RETURNED to the U.S. just like he’d done the previous FIVE times. That we have a large and growing undocumented immigrant population in the United States, residing in the very communities they must police is not something local law enforcement or sheriff departments can do anything about – their job is to effectively POLICE these communities, deter crime, and improve public safety notwithstanding the population’s immigration status. From a local law enforcement perspective, building trust with ALL members of the local community makes EVERYONE safer. That is why “Sanctuary” policies are in place to encourage members of immigrant communities to cooperate and work with police in their work to fight crime and improve public safety without fear of deportation. “Sanctuary” policies are widely supported by police groups such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police and chiefs from the nation’s largest police departments because they do in fact help communities unite to fight crime, and they do in fact help local law enforcement improve public safety for EVERYONE by helping to identify and arrest dangerous criminals who might otherwise go undetected without the public’s cooperation. Let’s not forget – it is not the responsibility of the local police to enforce our immigration laws. Unless and until local law enforcement have a lawful reason or basis to detain someone, they CANNOT do so without violating civil liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution to everyone, including undocumented immigrants. The tragic incident in San Francisco should be a wake-up call for the GOP House leadership which continues to block Comprehensive Immigration Reform in Congress, even threatening to shut down and withhold operating funds from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which is entrusted with immigration enforcement. So blame Congress if you want someone else to blame – in particular the GOP house leadership – because it is their inaction which is perpetuating an irrational system that diverts DHS’s limited resources from focusing on those who can and will harm us, leaving a very large undocumented population in the United States basically unaccounted for. Its time for Congress to address our immigration problem and pass comprehensive reform – doing nothing means homeland insecurity worsens for everyone including American families, businesses, taxpayers, and innocent victims like Ms. Steinle.
– Sandrine Lisk, Esq. Director of Advocacy