All four of the Democratic candidates for president have expressed support for sanctuary cities, a controversial policy that is being blamed for the recent release of a five times-deported illegal alien who allegedly murdered a woman in broad daylight in San Francisco.
As a senator from New York, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, twice made public statements backing sanctuary cities. In 2008, she and two other Democratic candidates, Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Virginia U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, voted against an amendment that would block federal funds from going to sanctuary cities. And last year, as governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley announced that the Baltimore city jail would stop honoring requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold illegal aliens until they could be deported.
Sanctuary city policies, which are on the books in about 140 cities, are coming under scrutiny following Wednesday’s shooting death of 32-year-old San Francisco resident Kate Steinle.
Steinle was walking on Pier 14 with her father and a friend when 45-year-old Francisco Sanchez allegedly shot her. The Mexican national, who was last deported in 2009 and had a rap sheet that included seven felonies, was in ICE custody as recently as March following an arrest for felony re-entry.
ICE turned Sanchez over to the San Francisco sheriff’s department which had a warrant on him for a drug charge. At that time, ICE placed a detainer request asking to be notified before Sanchez’s release so that he could be taken back into federal custody and be deported.
But because of San Francisco’s sanctuary city policies, the sheriff’s department declined to honor ICE’s request. San Francisco hands over illegal aliens at its own discretion, usually in cases involving aliens who have pending felony charges. Despite numerous past felonies and deportations, Sanchez was released back onto the streets in April because he did not have a felony charge pending against him at the time.
Clinton last weighed in publicly on sanctuary cities during the 2008 presidential campaign.
“You would allow the sanctuary cities to disobey the federal law?” Clinton was asked by Tim Russert during a Sept. 6, 2007, debate at Dartmouth College.
“Well, I don’t think there is any choice,” she responded.
Clinton said she backed the sanctuary city concept because without it, illegal immigrants refuse to cooperate with police because they are afraid of being deported.
“Local law enforcement has a different job than federal immigration enforcement,” Clinton said. “The problem is the federal government has totally abdicated its responsibility.”
Clinton again expressed her support for sanctuary cities in a 2008 interview with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly.
“Are you going to crack down on the sanctuary cities?” O’Reilly asked.
“No, I’m not,” Clinton said, eliciting a shocked response from the host.
Clinton has gone even further to the left on immigration policy since her last presidential bid. In April, she announced she wanted to expand on President Obama’s far-left immigration policies. She also indicated she would consider taking executive action to roll back some federal immigration laws.
Jessica Vaughan, a policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies, says Clinton’s shift indicates she would do more to advance the concept of sanctuary cities.
“Hillary Clinton’s recent public statements indicate that she intends to outdo the Obama administration in dismantling immigration laws, so there is good reason to be concerned that this problem would get worse under a Clinton administration, and that more local governments would either be encouraged or coerced into obstructing ICE,” Vaughan told The Daily Caller.
“I would expect another Clinton administration to stoop to the same kind of legal hi-jinks, abuse of authority, disregard of safety and security, and then evasion of accountability, much as we witnessed when she was Secretary of State,” Vaughan added.
So far, only one presidential candidate has weighed in on Steinle’s murder.
“Where are the other candidates now that this tragic murder has taken place b/c of our unsafe border,” real estate mogul Donald Trump wrote on Twitter.