Steinle Trial Moves forward, but Congressional Anti-Sanctuary Bills Remain Stuck in Swamp

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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 13, 2017
Artist Sketch of Steinle Trail
Testimony begins in San Francisco Sanctuary City, Kate Steinle Trial.
Last week, the defense continued presenting its case in the Kate Steinle second degree murder trial. In San Francisco, the emotionally charged trial of Jose Garcia Zarate, aka Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, the illegal immigrant accused of murdering Kate Steinle, is moving slowly forward. Zarate/Lopez-Sanchez is a five-time deported alien and, a seven-time convicted felon.

But although the trial might represent an excellent, high visibility moment for the Senate to vote on two bills that the House passed with bilateral support to increase maximum sentences for alien felony re-entry and to hold local jurisdictions more rigorously accountable for ignoring Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers, little progress has been made.

The two bills are, first, Kate’s Law, named to recognize Steinle’s tragedy, which would impose a mandatory five-year prison sentence on repeat illegal entry offenders. The second is the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act,” which the Senate received in July. Despite widespread nationwide support for the bills, the Senate has neither voted on the bills nor scheduled a vote.

The Senate’s apparent indifference to toughening immigration laws as they relate to sanctuary citizens and violent criminal aliens is hard for Americans to grasp. At a minimum, Congress should respect Kate’s memory as well as the dozens of other victims with tough enforcement. Asked to explain his feelings about his daughter’s preventable murder, Kate’s father Jim said: “We’re hopeful that with what happened to Kate, maybe something will be done that will save a life so that won’t happen again... if one positive thing happens that saves a life then that’s good.”

Shortly after Kate’s murder, Liz Sullivan, said about her daughter: “"She was not only beautiful but a very soulful person. A lot of depth, a lot of spirituality always from a young age. And I think that's what is helping to give us the strength that we've conjured up here in this terrible, terrible situation. I feel her strength still with me.”

Zarate’s trial is expected to last another two-to-six months.
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