The barrage of outraged tweets from GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump decrying the killing of Kathryn Steinle, 32, in San Francisco signals the start of what may be an intense immigration debate with potential fallout in California, home to the nation's largest undocumented population, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Social media blazed with anger and frustration at the news that the man arrested for the shooting death at San Francisco's Pier 14 last week has a rap sheet with seven felonies, was in the U.S. illegally and has been deported to his native Mexico five times. He was released from San Francisco Jail despite a request by immigration authorities that he be kept in custody. Particularly galling, many said, was that the release of Francisco Sanchez, 45, followed San Francisco Sheriff's Department policies ordering the department not to comply with requested immigration holds based solely on allegations that a person is in the country illegally.
Leading the critics was Trump, who ignited a political firestorm when he said last month that some Mexican immigrants are “rapists” and “killers.” Last week, Trump said, “This senseless and totally preventable act of violence committed by an illegal immigrant is yet another example of why we must secure our border immediately.” The sharp reaction dramatized how, in the run-up to the 2016 election, issues relating to criminal justice and immigration could become prominent at the national level and possibly fuel congressional calls to cut funding to San Francisco and other “sanctuary cities.” At the state and local levels, political figures who have been associated with efforts to advocate for immigrants in the law enforcement arena may also face heat.