SAN FRANCISCO—After undocumented immigrant Francisco Lopez Sanchez was charged with the murder of Kathryn Steinle on Pier 14 in July, San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy received widespread criticism.
Due to the policy, the San Francisco Police Department allowed Sanchez to stay in the United States after being arrested and released for drug possession, even upon discovering Sanchez was residing in the country illegally.
On Tuesday, October 20, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors assessed the sanctuary city policy for the first time since Steinle’s murder. Steinle’s parents had filed a lawsuit for wrongful death, which called out the sheriff and federal agents for mishandling unauthorized immigrants.
After deliberation, the policy was upheld. The Board stated that local law enforcement will not be required to notify federal authorities of the Immigration Customs and Enforcement of the release of unauthorized immigrants.
For years, San Francisco has taken pride in its title of serving as a refuge for immigrants. In 1989, San Francisco declared itself a sanctuary city, and passed an official ordinance that banned city officials from enforcing immigration laws or asking about immigration status unless required by law or court order.
The death of Steinle raised issues regarding this policy and whether incidents of this nature would occur had Sanchez been detained. According to multiple reports, in addition to charges of illegal drug use and possession, Sanchez had already been deported five times by federal authorities.
The Board of Supervisors stated they would not let hateful commentary undermine a longstanding policy that improves public safety and embraces immigrants.
Supervisor Malia Cohen stated, “We cannot allow one event to dictate 25 years, 25 years of our city’s policies toward undocumented immigrants in our city.”
Although the policy discussion was tabled, the Board of Supervisors are anticipating that November’s election for a new sheriff may instigate another cause for reevaluation next month.