By John Fitzpatrick
While the Washington politico and much of America is consumed with the ongoing impeachment spectacle, a few of our elected representatives are actually going about the business of the American people for which they were elected. Senator Thom Tillis, (R, North Carolina) has introduced a bill that could potentially make America’s communities safer. It is called the Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act, and it is long overdue.
When sanctuary jurisdictions unilaterally decide to ignore federal laws and ignore legal requests from federal agencies by releasing known illegal alien criminals who have no right to be in the United States into communities, they are knowingly allowing someone who is up to 80% likely to re-offend to go free. In some cases, such as sexual crime, that percentage is closer to 100%. But rather than turn these known criminals over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), these sanctuary jurisdictions choose to release them into their communities. The results are, unfortunately, all too well known. From the Kate Steinle case in San Francisco, to Officer Brandon Mendoza of the Tempe, Arizona Police Department, (who were both killed by criminal illegal aliens who had been recently released by sanctuary jurisdictions), the tragedies are numerous and the stories similar. Every single one of them was 100% preventable.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act last week. Based on comments and questions from distinguished Democrats on the committee, it was apparent they had little understanding of the severity of impact that sanctuary policies are having on our communities. Many Americans are also uninformed of the harsh consequences, and have no idea who these policies really protect. Sanctuary policies do not protect family groups, DACA recipients, or other illegal aliens who do not have a criminal history. Sanctuary politics protect only known, convicted and verified criminal illegal aliens.
The series of events in the Kate Steinle killing is outlined below. It provides the specifics of how one criminal illegal alien came to be released back into a community with fatal results. It is typical of many cases where Americans have been, and continue to be, victimized with rape, murder, sexual assaults, burglaries and countless other crimes. These are crimes committed by illegal immigrants; individuals who would have been, and should have been removed from the country, had public servants not unilaterally invoked the sanctuary policies.
Timeline of a Tragedy
Kate Steinle’s killer is Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate. Following, is the sequence of events that led to this crime.
October 26, 1995
Zarate was charged with felony Transportation/Sale of a Controlled Substance by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department (SFCSD). For unknown reasons, he didn't make it to his trial. He was most likely deported from the United States. A felony warrant for his arrest was issued at that time by the SFCSD requesting extradition nationwide from other agencies for the pending drug charges.
Prior to May 12, 2011
Zarate was found and arrested in the United States by the U.S. Border Patrol while attempting to illegally reenter the country. He was charged with 8 USC 1326, which is Illegal Re-entry after Deportation, a felony. Under immigration law it is a felony to re-enter the United States after having been formally deported. It is a simple charge to prove, and only a few defendants have actually had the charges dismissed, and then only on technicality and in the 9th Circuit United States Court of Appeals. He was convicted.
May 12, 2011
Zarate is sentenced to 46 months in Federal Prison with 3 years of supervised release and subsequently remanded to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to serve his sentence.
While Zarate is in Federal custody, authorities become aware of the outstanding felony warrant from San Francisco County- still pending from 1995. The warrant is verified and it is confirmed that SFCSD wishes to extradite Zarate to California on the old state charges. This is common practice among Federal, State and Local law enforcement agencies across the country. With crimes that are committed by illegal aliens, there can be violations of multiple jurisdictions.
Once the state or local criminal proceedings are complete, the illegal alien is turned over to federal authorities (Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Enforcement and Removal Operations (ICE/ERO)) for the immigration process to play out. ICE/ERO is the federal law enforcement agency responsible for locating and apprehending those ordered deported as well as the transportation and placement of Federal prisoners in federal detention facilities.
ICE/ERO placed a “detainer" on the subject. This is an official document advising the detaining agency that probable cause has been established that the subject in question is in the United States illegally and subject to deportation proceedings. This detainer, also known as a release notification request, ensures that when all state and local legal proceedings are complete and sentences served, the subject is returned to Federal custody for adjudication of the immigration case against them.
So there is no confusion or doubt about this case, Zarate is a criminal illegal alien. He illegally entered the United States multiple times. He has no right to be here. His mere presence in the United States is a felony. He has committed multiple felonies in the United States and has been formally deported from the United States multiple times. His illegal status is not in question.
March 26, 2015
Zarate is released from Federal Bureau of Prison custody and turned over to ICE/ERO in Texas.
On the same date, Zarate was transported and remanded to the custody of the SFSD on the felony warrant from 1995. Upon his transfer to the SFSD an immigration detainer was placed on him and made part of his file, which ensured that upon completion of the still pending state criminal proceeding, Zarate would be remanded back to ICE/ERO custody for deportation proceedings.
March 27, 2015
After having Zarate extradited to San Francisco, the San Francisco County prosecutor’s office dismisses the state charges for Transport/Sale of a Controlled Substance.
April 15, 2015
Zarate was released by the SFCSD into the local community. This was not an oversight. San Francisco authorities were well aware of the pending detainer placed by ICE/ERO requesting that they turn Zarate over. The decision was made based on the local sanctuary city policy put in place by local politicians. It was a decision that had fatal consequence for Kate Steinle.
July 1, 2015
Zarate shot and killed Kate Steinle in San Francisco, California.
July 2, 2016
On July 2, 2016, the SFSD arrested Zarate for shooting and killing Kate Steinle. He was subsequently charged with First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Involuntary Manslaughter, Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Felon in Possession of a Firearm.
November 30, 2017
Zarate was acquitted of all charges in San Francisco Superior Court, except for the Felon in Possession of a Firearm charge.
December 1, 2017
Federal authorities issue an arrest warrant via the U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas for Zarate based on violations of his terms of release on the previous 8 USC 1326 conviction.
December 5, 2017
A federal grand jury indicts Zarate on 18 USC 922(g)(5). 18 USC 922 is a federal law that makes it illegal for anyone not legally present in the United States to possess a firearm.
March 26. 2019
1st District Court of California overturns the state firearm possession charge on a possession technicality.
August 30. 2019
9th circuit rules that the Steinle family can’t sue officials in San Francisco County for being complicit in the death of their daughter through their negligent sanctuary polices.
Zarate remains in federal custody pending the outcome of the federal charges.
The trial is over. Kate Steinle is gone. However, it is not the court system that failed her and the countless other victims of these sanctuary policies. It is the arrogant, self-righteous politicians who unilaterally flout federal law because they “feel” like it. Constituents have no say with regard to the implementation of these policies. We may never know whether or not Zarate intentionally shot Kate Steinle. But what we do know that the “leaders” in San Francisco intentionally ignored a federal immigration detainer and chose to release a convicted felon illegal alien into the community. We also know that if they had not done so, Kate Steinle would still be alive.
During the Senate Judiciary hearing the democrats on the committee showed their ignorance on the issue by claiming that sanctuary policies make it safer for victims and witnesses of crime to come forward. Durbin ranted about a “grandmother” who was arrested. Hirono could not believe that these jurisdictions were releasing dangerous criminals into the community, to which ICE/ERO Director Robbins responded, “That is why we are here.” But none of their arguments or concerns had any nexus to the issue of refusing to turn over convicted criminal illegal aliens to ICE/ERO for removal from the country. It is inexcusable.
This is not about being anti-immigration. This is not about the tiresome rhetoric and mischaracterizations of those who understand the importance of sovereignty, calling them xenophobes. This is about understanding that there are thousands and thousands of people who are in this country illegally, many of whom are serious criminals, and who are here to perpetrate more crime.
No one has said that all illegal aliens are serious criminals. Although, if someone is in the United States illegally, they have committed a crime. The tactic of conflating legal and illegal immigration has evolved. The left is now conflating legal immigrants with criminal illegal aliens and shielding them from federal law enforcement- law enforcement tasked with removing them from the country. They are doing so at the peril of the communities that they are supposed to be protecting. The issue also reinforces and highlights the urgency of securing the border. In most cases those criminal aliens who are deported seek to return to the United States. Senator Tillis made it clear that this is not about comprehensive immigration reform, but it is about taking a step towards addressing a problem that is 100% preventable and holding those who refuse to act responsibly accountable.
There are countless tragic stories of United States citizens being victimized by criminal illegal aliens who were inappropriately released to communities. Until now the families and loved ones of those victimized by sanctuary policies have had no recourse. The Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act will give these victims a voice and a path of recourse. It will allow them to pursue the officials who have enacted these irresponsible sanctuary policies in civil court and hold them accountable for their actions, something that is long overdue. The next step should be to hold these officials criminally accountable. Statutes are on the books under 8 USC 1324 which make it a federal felony to knowingly harbor or shield illegal aliens.
Meanwhile, a current example of the sanctuary insanity is getting ready to rear its ugly head. As of October 27, 2019, sanctuary Mecklenburg County in North Carolina is expected to release two criminal illegal aliens charged with raping children and one of trafficking heroin into the local communities. They are doing this, rather than turning them over to ICE/ERO. Angel Mom Mary Ann Mendoza, the mother of Officer Brandon Mendoza testified at the hearing and asked a poignant question. “Why are criminal aliens above the law?” Why indeed.
John is a Freelance Writer and Consultant with a focus on border and immigration related issues, personal security and leadership development/mentoring.
John retired from and draws on 29 years of experience with the United States Border Patrol where he held various positions during his career to include:
Associate Chief, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Headquarters Border Patrol
(A) Deputy Chief, El Paso, Texas
Division Chief Operations, Tucson, Arizona
Assistant Chief, Tucson, Arizona
Agent in Charge, Nogales, Arizona,
Spec Ops Supervisor, Prosecution Supervisor, BORTAC Tactical Team
John has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maine and completed an Advanced Management Program at the University of Chicago Booth.John has been on various church boards, been involved with community event planning and enjoys traveling and engaging in consensus building, leadership development and mentoring.