A U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday highlighted growing frustration by lawmakers of both parties with some local governments’ refusal to fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities, as senators heard from the widow of a Sacramento County sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver, who prosecutors say was murdered by an undocumented immigrant.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s scrutiny of federal immigration enforcement policies came a few weeks after this month’s killing of San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle. The undocumented immigrant charged in that case, Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, had a lengthy criminal record and was deported several times. San Francisco, a so-called sanctuary city, had released Sanchez despite federal immigration officials’ request that he be detained.
According to the committee, San Francisco and other local governments in 276 counties in 43 states have turned down 8,811 immigration detainer requests. Of that number, 62 percent involved people who had been previously charged or convicted of a crime or presented other concerns. Almost 1,900 went on to be arrested on suspicion of new crimes.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who chairs the panel, has introduced legislation that would withhold federal funding from local governments that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Tuesday she plans to carry legislation that would require state and local law enforcement officials to notify the federal government when an immigrant has felony convictions.
“It seems to me that a simple notification to ICE could have prevented Kate Steinle’s death,” Feinstein said. Steinle’s father, Jim Steinle, was among those who testified to the committee.
Susan Oliver, the widow of slain Sacramento County Deputy Danny Oliver, was Tuesday’s first witness. She told the Senate panel that “because of the actions of one criminal, my life will never be the same.”
Danny Oliver, 47, was killed Oct. 24, 2014, at a Motel 6 parking lot near Arden Way. Authorities say Luis Enriquez Monroy Bracamontes, who was in the U.S. illegally, killed Oliver at the start of a regionwide crime spree in which he also killed Placer County sheriff’s Detective Michael Davis Jr. and wounded several others. Bracamontes faces the death penalty.
Susan Oliver said her husband, a father of two and 15-year department veteran, loved his job working in the problem-oriented policing program, known as POP.
“The last thing my husband attempted to do as a POP officer was to ask the man inside the car how his day was going,” Oliver said. “But he never made it to the driver’s window.”
The House of Representatives is scheduled to take up a bill this week to block federal funding for jurisdictions that resist turning over immigrants to federal authorities.
In the California Legislature, Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, has said he will introduce legislation that would require local governments to hold inmates who are in the country illegally for two days to give federal authorities time to figure out if the person should be prosecuted or deported.
Jim Miller: 916-326-5521, @jimmiller2
The Associated Press contributed to this report.