San Francisco

Santa Clara County to Consider Cooperating With ICE Following Pier 14 Kate Steinle Shooting Death

Since a 32-year-old woman was killed along Pier 14 in San Francisco, allegedly by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record, four Bay Area counties -- Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Marin -- have agreed to notify ICE when inmates flagged by the agency for possible deportation are about to be released, the Mercury News reported.

And on Monday, a Santa Clara County advisory committee met to discuss whether to be more helpful to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and cooperate in a limited fashion.

The committee will prepare a report which supervisors will discuss at a Sept. 15 meeting.

To date, South Bay officials have yet to change their "sanctuary" policy of refusing to assist ICE in enforcing immigration law, even for the possible deportation of criminals.

But the "bail and release work group" discussed whether the county should alert ICE at least 48 hours before the release of inmates who have committed serious or violent crimes. A group made up of Supervisor Cindy Chavez, community groups and representatives of the Sheriff's Office, probation and the District Attorney's Office will then recommend a policy to the Board of Supervisors, which controls jail policy. "I think there will be a change (in policy)," Chavez said. "But to what end? We need a safe community." Several immigrant rights advocates came to the meeting to ask for leniency on deportations.

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said that she believes that with her agency should notify ICE when there are "serious, violent felons."

No time table was immediately offered for the policy recommendation.

All the debate stems from Kate Steinle’s death on July 1. Prosecutors said she was shot by illegal immigrant Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, whom San Francisco authorities had released without notifying ICE despite his lengthy record of drug crimes and five deportations. Lopez-Sanchez's attorney claims the shooting was accidental. San Francisco does not cooperate with ICE at all.

Before Steinle's death, most California counties, including all in the Bay Area, had stopped cooperating with ICE by mid-2014, the Mercury News reported. Initially, many had complied with requests from ICE to hold inmates for an extra 48 hours after their official release dates to give agents the option of detaining some for possible deportation.

But the California State Sheriff's Association advised its members to stop complying with "ICE holds" after federal courts ruled the practice was unconstitutional.

NBC Bay Area's Bob Redell contributed to this report.

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