Seizing on the well-publicized slaying of a woman last month in San Francisco, Republican state senators on Thursday announced legislation they believe would prevent undocumented immigrant felons from evading custody to commit more crimes.
Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, acknowledged that her Senate Bill 57 would apply to only a small number of cases. But she said it was needed to improve communication between local authorities. Specifically, it would prevent local law enforcement officials from seeking custody of an immigrant felon waiting to be deported from the U.S. – unless the localities intend to pursue criminal charges against them.
Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, the man charged with killing 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle on Pier 14, is a seven-time felon deported from the U.S. five times. Before the shooting, he was transferred to San Francisco for an old warrant, but was released when the district attorney declined to bring new charges.
“We need a law to make sure they do and will prosecute if they are going to take them out of federal prison, and they have a felony to prosecute on,” Runner said.
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She was joined at the Capitol by Susan Oliver, the widow of Sacramento County sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver, who was killed last year, allegedly by someone in the U.S. illegally. Susan Oliver had previously testified in Congress on so-called sanctuary cities – municipalities that effectively shelter unauthorized immigrants.
On Thursday, she said her grief is ever-present, and while Runner’s SB 57 does not speak directly to her case, “it is a start and will hopefully bring some order and a higher degree of public safety to the chaos of our current policy.”
Runner joins other GOP colleagues pursuing related measures that would appear long shots in the Democrat-controlled Legislature. A separate bill by Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, would require people in the country illegally to be held for 48 hours so federal immigration officials could consider deportation or prosecution.