Family of Murdered Woman Sues City of San Francisco over ‘Sanctuary City’ Policy

The family of Kathryn Steinle, the woman who was gunned down and killed while walking along San Francisco Pier last year, has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city of San Francisco and other government agencies after the city re-affirmed its “sanctuary city” policy to shelter illegal aliens, including criminals, from deportation. Last July, 32-year-old Stein was walking with her father when she was shot and killed by an illegal alien, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez who was under the influence of drugs. Sanchez had already been convicted of seven felonies and deported five times to Mexico at the time of the murder.

It is reported that the city, former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement  (ICE) are the named parties of the lawsuit. It alleges that officials allowed Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant to repeatedly go free, obtain a gun, and kill her. It is also reported that the lawsuit focuses largely on a memorandum issued in March 2015 by ex-Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who prevented local authorities from communicating with ICE. The city’s Sheriff’s Department had released Sanchez without notifying immigration officials after his prior arrests and convictions.

Sanchez has been charged with murder, but it is reported that his defense attorneys will be arguing the shooting was the result of an accidental ricochet.

What Exactly is a ‘Sanctuary City’?

While there is no legal definition of “sanctuary city,” it is generally defined as a city with policies/laws that limit the extent to which local authorities may assist the federal government on immigration enforcement. These policies can range from nonbinding resolutions, executive orders, or police department orders. There are currently over 200 state and local jurisdictions that have these policies.

San Francisco’s “Sanctuary City and Due Process for All Policy” specifically encouraged immigrant communities to communicate with local law enforcement. It had forbidden the use of city and county resources for assisting federal immigration authorities in deportations.

Immigration and Criminal Law

All immigrants, including those with green cards, can be deported if they are convicted of certain crimes. The Immigration and Nationality Act § 237 lays out specific crimes that are grounds for deportation, including:

  • Crimes of moral turpitude;
  • Aggravated felony ;
  • Marriage fraud;
  • Human smuggling;
  • VISA violations;

While California does not require police check immigration status during traffic stops, an increasing number of jurisdictions are starting to.

San Diego Criminal Defense and Immigration Lawyer

At the Law Offices of David Boertje, our attorneys have a solid understanding of how federal immigration laws interact with federal and California state criminal law. If you are an immigrant who has been charged with a crime in San Diego County, it is imperative that you contact and immigration and criminal defense attorney right away. Contact the law offices of attorney David Boertje today for a free and confidential consultation.