Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Tragedy in San Francisco and What It Means (or Doesn't) About Immigrants and Immigration


A tragic event in San Francisco last week has once again brought immigration to the headlines.  As reported on ImmigrationProf, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said a seemingly random killing of a young woman in San Francisco was even more proof why voters should support his candidacy. (The Washington Post skillfully dissects Trump's hyperbole about immigration here.).  The shooting of Kate Steinle on a city pier, police say, was committed by an undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times to Mexico. Law enforcement officials told CNN that the man had been released by the San Francisco sheriff's department despite a request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for an immigration detainer. The suspect previously had been charged with four relatively minor drug crimes and one for probation violation and illegal reentry. San Francisco's "sanctuary" ordinance requires that the Sheriff's Department only place an ICE hold on a detainee if supported by judicial determination of probable cause or with a warrant of arrest. For more details about the case, click here and here.

 Raul Reyes on CNN in "Don't blame all immigrants for San Francisco shooting" offers a down and dirty rebuttal to Trump's claims that the tragedy proves that Trump is right about the criminal nature of immigrants from Mexico.  Here are some of his points:

"It is a myth that increased illegal immigration leads to more crime. Research from the Immigration Policy Center shows that crime rates fell in the United States as the size of our immigrant population, including undocumented immigrants, grew from 1990 to 2010."

"Most undocumented immigrants come to the United States to work and provide a better life for themselves and their families."

"Consider that several mass shootings, from Aurora to Newtown to Charleston, were committed by young white men. Does that mean that all young white men are potential mass murderers? Of course not."

"One takeaway from this episode is that deporting as many undocumented immigrants as possible is not the answer to our immigration problems. Lopez-Sanchez had been deported five times, and yet he was still here in the country without authorization. Another lesson here is our country does not need more immigration enforcement; our country needs smarter and better immigration enforcement."

"Up to now, immigration authorities have wasted time, manpower and money chasing after people working productively in their communities as, say, gardeners and maids, while felons like Lopez-Sanchez slipped through the cracks."

"President Barack Obama's proposed executive action on immigration, currently tied up in a legal battle, might also have made a difference because it would have freed up resources to go after people like Lopez-Sanchez. The executive action would have given deportation relief to parents of DREAMers, while allowing DHS to zero in on criminals. Instead, despite the fact that our country spends more on immigration enforcement than all other law enforcement agencies combined, our system failed Kate Steinle."  The White House has made a similar point and noted that comprehensive immigration reform, if not blocked by Republicans, would have increased resources for border security and enforcement.



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