Steinle was shot on a popular pier in San Francisco on the evening of July 1. The suspect in the case, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had previously been deported from the United States five times. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Lopez-Sanchez said he took sleeping pills he found in a trashcan, and then found the gun moments before the shooting. He has been charged with murder.
There was no warrant for his arrest prior to the shooting because San Francisco is a "sanctuary city" that doesn't dedicate local law enforcement resources to immigration enforcement or automatically report undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. An estimated 60 cities, including many of the nation's largest, follow these practices in various forms.
Kelly's guest, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who is an undocumented immigrant himself, said the shooting could have been prevented if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had issued a warrant for Lopez-Sanchez.
Federal authorities transferred Lopez-Sanchez to San Francisco earlier this year to face a local drug change, but the city declined to pursue it. With no other warrants for his arrest, he was released. The city followed its sanctuary city policy and defied ICE’s request to keep him in custody due to his immigration status.
Kelly agreed that ICE should have issued a warrant, but she claimed they didn’t have to. Citing a section from the Code of Federal Regulations, Kelly said that local law enforcement must detain an undocumented immigrant if federal officials request it.
Vargas defended the sanctuary city policy, saying it’s supported by the Association of Chiefs of Police because it allows undocumented immigrants to come to police and aid crimefighting.
“The law is the law, and fidelity to the law is what binds us together," Kelly said, implying that the sanctuary city policy allows undocumented immigrants to go free and led to Steinle's death.
Vargas said there is a failure of communication between federal and local agencies, and called ICE "possibly the most rogue agency in government."
He also cautioned against stereotyping immigrants. “This man does not represent all 11, 12 million undocumented immigrants, like me."