Ten months after a 32-year-old woman was shot dead on a pier in San Francisco, allegedly by a man living illegally in the U.S., local lawmakers and the sheriff came to an agreement Tuesday to reaffirm the city’s standing as a so-called sanctuary city.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously, with the support of Sheriff Vicki Hennessy, to restrict local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials. Hennessy had previously threatened to set her own rules without the board’s approval, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Last year was a really challenging moment for our sanctuary city policy,” Supervisor John Avalos, who led the negotiations and is an advocate for immigrants’ rights, said. “But here, today, we have an update to our policy that we get to vote on to ensure that as a city we can unite all together on what the standard is going to be.”
The new agreement gives Hennessy, who was elected in November, the discretion to notify federal immigration officials of intent to release undocumented inmates if they have a violent or serious criminal conviction or if they have three or more nonviolent felonies.
The killing of Kathryn Steinle last year ago set off a national firestorm at a time when the ascendant Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was making a crackdown on illegal immigration central to his candidacy. He used San Francisco’s sanctuary city status and Steinle’s slaying as fuel in the debate over deporting undocumented immigrants from the country.
The killing also led to congressional hearings in which Steinle’s father, who was with her when she was shot that day in July, asked federal lawmakers to change U.S. immigration laws.
Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez had been released from a San Francisco jail months before the killing after drug charges against him were dropped. He had previously been deported five times. Lopez-Sanchez’s lawyer has said the shooting was an accident, but it is not in dispute that he was holding the gun when it fired and killed Steinle.