S.F. Fatal Shooting Revives Debate On Cities’ Sanctuary Policies


Since the 1980s, many cities, including San Francisco, have adopted “sanctuary” policies that prevent city workers from helping federal immigration officials identify and possibly deport people without immigration papers. With an undocumented immigrant accused of fatally shooting Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco last week, apparently at random as she walked with her father in a popular waterfront area, the nation's mostly blue-state and big-city sanctuary policies have come under fire, reports the Christian Science Monitor. States like Tennessee and Georgia have laws that forbid cities from instituting such policies.

There are sharp divisions among conservatives and liberals on how to approach to such immigration problems. Last week's shooting has laid bare the different philosophies about how federal and local officials should or shouldn't interface, and how cities can best address the issues related to undocumented immigrants. For supporters of the decades-long sanctuary movement, the shooting does not change their commitment to what they see as a humanitarian and pragmatic approach. “The purposes of these policies is effective law enforcement and the belief that immigrants are more likely to cooperate with police if they are not likely to be deported by cooperating with them,” Dean Kevin Johnson of the University of California, Davis, School of Law, told the Pleasanton, Ca., Weekly. For many conservatives, the shooting is a cautionary tale about what can happen under sanctuary policies. They say the incident embodies the kinds of problems that illegal immigrants bring, especially those from Mexico.

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