The suspect, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had multiple felony convictions and had been deported five times. San Francisco authorities released him in April, adhering to a policy of rejecting detainer requests from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement to hold undocumented immigrants unless they face serious criminal charges.
San Francisco is among hundreds of jurisdictions nationally that decline to honor ICE detainers, which have been successfully challenged in court and which advocates say can unfairly target immigrants who have done nothing wrong or committed only minor crimes.
The House will vote on legislation by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, this week that would shut down two different types of local law enforcement grants to cities that don't cooperate with federal immigration authorities and cut off their reimbursements for the costs of jailing immigrants in the country illegally who commit crimes.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, announced Tuesday that he, too, was offering a bill to cut off certain federal funding to sanctuary cities, as well as require a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence for immigrants who illegally re-enter this country after having been deported. The latter provision has been championed by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, who has dubbed it "Kate's Law," and has been embraced by a number of conservative lawmakers.
"Enforcing the immigration laws of the United States is not a voluntary or trivial matter. Real lives are at stake. Things cannot continue this way," Grassley said. "No more people should die at the hands of those who break our laws just by being here."
But the GOP proposals infuriated advocates who accused Republicans of targeting immigrant communities after repeatedly blocking comprehensive immigration overhaul legislation on Capitol Hill. The debate also comes as Trump has inflamed Latinos by describing Mexican immigrants as "criminals" and "rapists."
"Republicans, rather than look at the problem, which in essence is a need to revamp our entire immigration system, take a tragedy like this, which is a horrible tragedy, and politicize it," said David Leopold, past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "It's no different than what Donald Trump has been running around the country doing, and that's demonizing immigrants."