Dealing with the death of a loved one is hard enough. Now, imagine dealing with the grief and frustration involved when your loved one is murdered by an undocumented immigrant? And then being told that you have no right to sue the criminal or the parties involved.
The murder of 32-year-old Kate Steinle in 2015 made national headlines and launched a major debate over the sanctuary cities. Steinle had been shot by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez as she walked on a pier in San Francisco. The medical device sales rep was killed and the family was left to pick up the pieces.
Meanwhile, Sanchez was known as an undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times, so Steinle’s family were on a hot pursuit to bring his illegal actions to court. Her parents argued that San Francisco and its former sheriff were partly to blame for the murder in the federal wrongful death lawsuit that was presented. They disputed this based on the fact that officials didn’t take the proper measures and notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when Sanchez was released from jail in April 2015. They rightfully thought that their beloved daughter may still be alive if Sanchez had been reported to enforcement officials after his release.
The lawsuit stated the following:
“Kate’s death was both foreseeable and preventable had the law enforcement agencies, officials and/or officers involved simply followed the laws, regulations and/or procedures which they swore to uphold.”
According to Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero, the family’s claim didn’t warrant a lawsuit and the ruling left them devastated once again.
Spero stated the following in defense of the authorities…
“No law required the Sheriff’s Department to share Lopez-Sanchez’s release date with ICE, nor did any law forbid Mirkarimi establishing a policy against such cooperation.”
Spero also went on to deny the family’s claim against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) protecting the officials involved in the case, however; he allowed them to proceed with their other lawsuit which accused the Bureau of Land Management of negligence. Evidently, the gun that Sanchez used to shoot and kill Steinle, had been stolen from an unattended vehicle that was owned by an agent with the Bureau of Land Management. On the other hand, federal attorneys don’t feel that the agency should be held responsible for crimes committed with a gun after it had been stolen.
Sanchez will face murder and weapon charges at next month’s criminal trial. At this time he has pleaded not guilty.
The term “sanctuary cities,” is one that is considered controversial as it involves cities that hold policies and laws that limit the involvement of law enforcement and government agencies with immigration matters. These cities have limits to what can be worked out with federal authorities. Unfortunately, in this case, Steinle’s family is feeling the impact on this lack of involvement.
More than 200 state and local jurisdictions have policies against honoring ICE detention requests. Hopefully the the family of Kate Steinle will receive justice in their battle someday soon.