Frustrated Californians Wonder When DOJ’s ‘Final’ Threats to Sanctuary State Will Be ‘Final’

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

November 2, 2017
Kate Steinle's parents grieve
Kate Steinle’s grieving parents fight back tears as they recall how a previously deported
 illegal alien killed their daughter on San Francisco’s Pier 14 as her father watched.

On November 1, the Department of Justice issued its latest final warning to California to drop its sanctuary status or risk losing millions of dollars in federal funding. In 2016, California received $18 million in federal grant money. DOJ warned that money sent during previous years could be subject to “claw backs” meaning that state would have to return tens of millions dollars granted in earlier years.

The recent DOJ letter urged California to comply federal statute 8 USC 1373 which requires local jurisdictions to cooperate and communicate with federal law enforcement about a detainee’s immigration status and/or his scheduled release date. The letter states that California’s new law, the California Values Act, SB 54, “may violate,” the federal code.

But frustrated Californians who oppose the state’s sanctuary status wonder when “final” will really mean “final.” In April, in August, and again in early October, DOJ issued warnings to sanctuary jurisdictions, but to date, no action has been taken against the recalcitrant cities, counties and states.

The ongoing Kate Steinle trial has exacerbated law-abiding Californians’ fustration with DOJ’s unfulfilled promises to act. A five-time deported, seven-time convicted felon killed Steinle in 2015 shortly after he was released from a San Francisco jail.

Moreover, Californians are also discouraged that Kate’s Law, named after Steinle, languishes in Congress. The legislation, which would impose stiffer penalties on previously removed aliens, passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote, but the Senate leadership hasn’t brought it to the floor.

The consensus among Californians who respect the law, and want it upheld is that the time for talking is over, and the time for DOJ and congressional action is overdue. 

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