Death of San Francisco woman leads to bill on deporting felons

Francisco Sanchez

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez is accusing of killing 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle. Republican state lawmakers have introduced a measure that would have prevented Sanchez from being released from federal custody.

(Michael Macor / Associated Press)

Republican state lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation to restrict local law enforcement agencies from seeking custody of accused criminals scheduled for deportation, a response to the death of San Francisco woman allegedly killed by Mexican national who had been deported five times.

The measure, by Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) and Sen. Sharon Runner (R-Antelope Valley), would require a local enforcement agency to have an outstanding felony warrant for an individual before it could seek custody from federal immigration officials. The local agency also would be required to confirm that either the district attorney or attorney general planned to prosecute.




Aug. 28, 10:59 a.m.: An earlier version of this article identified one of the lawmakers introducing the legislation as state Sen. Shannon Runner. Her name is Sharon Runner.


If these criteria are not met, the individual would remain in federal detention. 

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“The state of California is not in the business of rescuing convicted felons from the federal government,” Runner said at a news conference Thursday to support the measure, SB 57.

Runner said the measure is necessary because the man accused of shooting Kathryn Steinle on a San Francisco pier, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, was transferred from federal to local custody because of a decades-old bench warrant in a marijuana case. When prosecutors decided not to pursue to the case, Lopez-Sanchez was released from custody.

“He would have been deported back and not sent to San Francisco if this bill had been in place, which would have saved Kate’s life,” Runner said.

The measure was approved Wednesday by the Senate Rules Committee and would need a two-thirds majority vote in both houses to reach the governor’s desk. The super-majority is needed because the measure has an urgency clause and would go into effect immediately.

Authors are working on winning support from law enforcement agencies, as well as lawmakers across the aisle. Sen. Cathleen Galgiana (D-Stockton) has joined on as a co-author.



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