The San Francisco police union jumped into the national debate on immigration stemming from a random shooting that killed a 32-year-old woman walking along the pier by pointing fingers at the county’s liberal-leaning public defender and sheriff for their stance on sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.
In a Monday post, the San Francisco Police Officers Association took aim at San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi and San Francisco County Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, along with other unnamed local politicians, who by city and county law, don’t deport immigrants unless they have active warrants out for their arrests.
Adachi released a statement Monday expressing concern about what he called "POA rhetoric."
"The Police Officers Association must have forgotten that the city's current sanctuary policy was fully supported by the chief of police, the district attorney, the mayor, and all 11 members of the board of supervisors when it passed," Adachi said, adding that the union's post could harm the efforts to rebuild community trust between police and the immigrant community.
The city and county of San Francisco voted to become a sanctuary city in 2013.
In the case of Francisco Sanchez, charged with the July 1 murder of Kate Steinle along Pier 14, the jail, run by Mirkarimi, let Sanchez go without sending him back to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency despite a “detainer” request to do so. Sanchez is an undocumented immigrant, who has been deported from the United States five times, records show.
"Bottom line is a young innocent woman has been murdered in cold blood, in front of her father, by a 5 time deported illegal alien drug dealer," the union's Facebook post read. "He is an ILLEGAL ALIEN not an undocumented immigrant and if he was where he belonged (Mexico) this innocent victim would still be alive.”
Many of the comments on the post supported the union. "PC crap is out of control," Chris Tallerico wrote.
Others took a more nuanced view. Casey Grim wrote: "Terribly sad, but the truth is it would have happened in Mexico if he had been in Mexico. A pointless murder that isn't on our soil isn't any less terrible. Many illegal immigrants are farmers looking to make money for their families back home, often they travel back home after they've saved a decent amount. This tragedy is horrific, and heart wrenching, but we shouldn't blame illegal immigrants."
For his part, Mirkarimi has defended his position on not complying with ICE detainers, and has said that the immigration agency could have put a court order on Sanchez if the agency wanted him so badly. He said on Tuesday that his officers used to call ICE on a case-by-case basis, but he told them not to in March, to comply with city and county policy.
The union’s post also made reference to the “tragic death of Anthony Bologna, 48, and his sons Michael, 20, and Mathew, 16, in 2008 by a previously deported ILLEGAL ALIEN.”
In that case, police believed that two suspects mistook one of the Bologna sons for a rival gang member. The triple-murder case brought national attention to San Francisco in 2008 because of the city's sanctuary policy, which shielded undocumented juveniles suspected of crimes from being reported to federal immigration officials.
One of the suspects, Edwin Ramos, 25, who was later convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, moved to the United States as a teen and remained in the country on an expired visa from El Salvador, was never reported to federal authorities despite multiple contacts with police as a juvenile.
The police union equated the same attitude toward sanctuary cities with the “tragic death of Kate Steinle. If this city and some of its elected official continue with this failed policy then it will happen again.”