WASHINGTON, June 29, 2017 — Kate’s Law, named after Kate Steinle, the 32-year-old women shot by an illegal immigrant while walking along a San Francisco pier, has passed. When she was shot, the young woman fell to the pier, crying “Help me, Dad” as the bullet that pierced her aorta killed her.
Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a Mexican national with seven felony convictions who had been deported five times, each time returning to the United States, killed Miss Steinle. Lopez-Sanchez had just finished a four-year federal prison sentence for illegally reentering the country. Prior to killing Steinle, Lopez-Sanchez had been in the custody of San Francisco law enforcement officials. But they released him, despite a federal immigration request to keep him in custody due to his undocumented status.
In late spring, Lopez-Sanches stole a .40-caliber pistol from an unlocked car belonging to U.S. Bureau of Land Management office. He used it to shoot Steinle at Pier 14 two years ago.
Kate’s Law would incrementally lengthen prison stays for deported immigrants each time they re-enter the country illegally. “This initiative will toughen penalties for illegal immigrants who repeatedly re-enter the country,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said at a press conference Thursday morning.
Steinle’s murder by a man who wasn’t supposed to be in the country—a man freed by San Francisco, which has designated itself a sanctuary city—intensified an already volatile debate over immigration and sanctuary cities. These sanctuary cities refuse to hand immigrants over for deportation to federal officials.
Kate Steinle’s death remains at the center of the immigration policy debate. It has spurred some politicians to demand that local jurisdictions enforce federal laws. Steinle’s untimely death has been a major policy weapon for politicians seeking tougher immigration policies.
When it passed Kate’s Law on Thursday, the House approved what would be the stiffest immigration crackdown in more than two decades. It passed the bill in a 257-167 vote, with support from two dozen Democrats.
The anti-sanctuary city bill, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, was also passed. This bill guarantees local police the ability to work with immigration agents, stopping lawsuits against local jurisdictions that cooperate with Homeland Security. The bill was approved on a near party-line vote, 228-195.
Kate’s Law was heavily supported by then Fox News Anchor Bill O’Reilly, who often called for a bi-partisan effort to pass the bill.
The bill’s passage is seen as another win for President Trump, who gave victims of illegal immigrant crimes an unprecedented platform in a debate that too often centered on the plight of the illegal alien, not the victim.